Q&A on Papal Transition, Conclave & Election of New Pope 
By Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ – originally appearing in America Magazine 

What do the cardinals look for in a candidate to be pope? 

Each cardinal looks for three things. First, he looks for someone who would be a good pope, which means someone who agrees with the cardinal’s values and vision for the church. 

Second, he looks for someone with whom he can have a good relationship. Ideally, he wants one of his cardinal friends as pope, someone who will listen to him. Personal relationships matter. 

Third, he wants someone who will be well received in his home country, or at least someone who will not cause problems in the cardinal’s county. For example, U.S. cardinals would not want a pope who does not understand the sexual abuse crisis and says stupid things like “it is a creation of the media.” Nor do cardinals from countries with lots of Muslims want a pope who says stupid things about Islam. As Tip O’Neil said, “All politics is local.” This also applies to the Catholic Church. 

When and where is the conclave held? 

Unless circumstances prevent it, the conclave takes place inside Vatican City and begins 15 days after death or resignation of the pope. For serious reasons, the cardinals can defer the beginning of the conclave, but it must begin within 20 days of the pope’s death. The exact date and time are set by the college of cardinals. The election takes place in the Sistine Chapel, with the cardinals living in the five-story Domus Sanctae Marthae, a Vatican residence with 105 two-room suites and 26 single rooms built in 1996, which is vacated by its usual residents during a conclave. The rooms are assigned by lot. A number of elections in the 19th century were held in the Quirinal Palace, which was one of the pope’s palaces until the fall of the Papal States in 1870. The last election to take place outside Rome was in Venice in 1800. 

[Note: Tuesday, Feb 26th, the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict has waived the 15 day waiting period.  So rather than March 15th, the cardinals will meet March 4th to determine when the conclave will officially start.]

Where does the word “conclave” come from? 

In the 13th century the papacy was vacant for a year and a half before the election of Innocent IV and for three and a half years before the installation of Gregory X. In the first case the election was finally forced by the senate and people of Rome, who locked up the cardinals until a pope was chosen in 1243. In the second case, the people of Viterbo in 1271 not only locked the cardinals in, but tore off the roof of the building and put the cardinals on a diet of bread and water. The word “conclave” comes from the Latin, “with a key,” as in locked with a key. Today the cardinals are locked in to ensure secrecy and to protect them from outside influence. Before the conclave begins, all telephones, cell phones, radios, televisions and Internet connections are removed. No letters or newspapers are permitted. All the rooms are swept for electronic bugs by trained technicians. During the 2005 conclave, the floor of the Sistine Chapel was raised to make room for electronic jamming equipment. 

Who is permitted in the conclave? 

All cardinals who are under 80 years of age when the pope dies or resigns have the right to vote for the next pope, unless they have been canonically deposed or, with the permission of the pope, have renounced the cardinalate. Even an excommunicated cardinal can attend. However, a cardinal who had resigned and joined Napoleon Bonaparte attempted to enter the conclave in 1800 but was turned away. Once inside the conclave, an elector may not leave except because of illness or other grave reasons acknowledged by a majority of the cardinals. 

The current dean of the college of cardinals, Angelo Sodano, is over 80 and therefore may not enter the conclave. The sub-dean is also over 80, which means the most senior cardinal bishop, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, will perform his duties. 

Also permitted in the conclave are nurses for infirmed cardinals, two medical doctors, religious priests who can hear confessions in various languages, the secretary of the College of Cardinals, the master of papal liturgical celebrations with two masters of ceremonies and two religious attached to the papal sacristy, and an assistant chosen by the cardinal dean. Also permitted are a suitable number of persons for preparing and serving meals and for housekeeping. They must swear absolute and perpetual secrecy concerning anything they learn concerning the election of the pope. 

Who are the cardinal electors? 

All cardinals under 80 years of age when the pope dies or resigns have the right to vote for the next pope. As of Feb. 11, 2013, there are 118 cardinal electors, of whom 67 were appointed by Benedict and the rest by John Paul II. One cardinal will turn 80 years of age before the pope’s resignation takes effect on February 28: Lubomyr Husar (February 26). Under the current rules, he will not be allowed in the conclave because he turns 80 before the resignation takes place. Other cardinals turning 80 this year will be able to attend: Walter Kasper (March 5), Severino Poletto (March 18), Juan Sandoval Iniguez (March 28), Godfried Danneels (June 4), Francisco J. Errazuriz Ossa (September 5), Raffaele Farina (September 24), Geraldo Majella Agnelo (October 19) and Joachim Meisner (December 25). 

The average age of the electors is 72 years of age. About 52 percent are from Europe—24 percent from Italy; 19 percent from the rest of Western Europe; 9 percent from Eastern Europe. About 34 percent are from the third world. Asia has 9.4 percent; Africa 9.4 percent; Latin America 16 percent. The United States has 9.4 percent, second only to Italy; Canada 2.6 percent. Curial cardinals make up about 35 percent of the electors, with an additional 10 percent being former Vatican officials who now head dioceses. 

The maximum number of cardinals was set at 70 by Sixtus V in 1586. John XXIII ignored this limit, and the college grew to over 80 cardinals. In 1970 Paul VI reformed the college of cardinals by increasing the number of electors to 120, not counting those 80 years of age and over who were excluded as electors. John Paul II exceeded this limit by two in 1998 and by 15 in 2001 and 2003. Benedict returned to the legal limit of 120, until February 2012 when he raised it to 124. In November 2012, he returned to 120. 

How has Benedict XVI changed the makeup of the college of cardinals? 

Popes tend to make only minor adjustments in the geographical distribution of cardinals, but since the total number of cardinals is small, a couple of cardinals here or there make a difference. John Paul increased the number of Eastern European cardinals and decreased the number of Italian cardinals. Benedict has increased the percentage of Italian cardinals and curial cardinals in the conclave and reduced the percentage of cardinals from the third world. 

Has the pope always been elected by the cardinals? 

Although the college of cardinals elects the pope today, this was not the rule until the 11th century. Some early popes (including perhaps St. Peter) appointed their successors. Although appointing one’s successor was provided for by the Roman Synod of 499 cited above, this method fell out of favor when Felix IV (526-530) and Boniface II (530-532) tried to impose controversial candidates as their successors. 

In the early church, popes were usually chosen by the clergy and people of Rome in the same way that bishops in other dioceses were elected. The one elected was then ordained by the bishops of the surrounding towns. This democratic process worked well when the church was small and united. But disagreements led to factions who fought over the papacy. As early as 217 the Christians of Rome were so divided over an election that fighting broke out. Pagan soldiers broke up the fight and exiled both men to the Sardinian tin mines. In 366, mobs and hired thugs from opposing factions invaded churches and killed opponents by the hundreds. Honorius (393-423) was the first Roman emperor to settle a disputed election by backing Boniface over Eulalius. Nobles, emperors and kings continued interfering in papal elections as the church became rich and powerful. 

The papal electors were limited to the clergy of the Diocese of Rome by the Roman synod of 499 (although in some elections some of the laity still participated until the eighth century). This followed the pattern of other dioceses where the clergy elected the bishop. The man elected pope was normally a priest or deacon. No bishop was elected pope until 891 (Formosus), because it was considered improper for a bishop to leave the diocese for which he had originally been ordained a bishop. A bishop was considered “married” to his diocese, and moving to another diocese was comparable to adultery. 

As early as 769, Pope Stephen III (768-772) convened a synod that restricted the electors to the cardinal priests and deacons. This rule was revoked and the vote was returned to the people and clergy of Rome by the Roman Constitution of 824. It also required the approval of the Western Emperor, although this requirement was eliminated by Marinus I (882-884). The Roman synod of 898 once again limited the vote to the clergy, who were to do it in the presence of the senate and people of Rome. 

Nicholas II (1059-61) proposed a system whereby the cardinal bishops would meet to nominate a candidate and then invite in the cardinal priests to vote on him. Alexander III modified this system by including all the cardinals in the election process from the beginning. Since 1179, only cardinals have voted for the pope except for the election in 1417 that ended the Western Schism. In this election, 30 representatives chosen from the Council of Constance joined the 23 cardinals (five from the Roman line and 18 from the Pisa line) in electing the new pope. 

The cardinals are divided into three orders or categories: cardinal deacons, cardinal priests and cardinal bishops. Originally, the cardinal priests were the pastors of major churches in Rome, and the cardinal deacons were important administrators in the diocese, often of what we would now call charities or social services. The cardinal bishops were the bishops of the six dioceses surrounding Rome. In the 11th century popes began appointing prelates in distant lands as cardinals. Things got very complicated when some bishops were named cardinal priests and deacons, and some priests were named cardinal deacons or bishops. (There were even some cardinals who received tonsure but were not deacons, priests or bishops). John XXIII decreed that all the cardinals should be bishops, although he kept the three orders. Some priests who were made cardinals after the age of 80, like Avery Dulles, have been exempted from becoming bishops. 

What happens on the first day of the conclave? 

On the morning the conclave begins, the cardinal electors celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. In the afternoon they gather in the Pauline Chapel in the Apostolic Palace and solemnly process to the Sistine Chapel. The cardinals take an oath to observe the rules laid down in Universi Dominici Gregis, especially those enjoining secrecy. They also swear not to support interference in the election by any secular authorities or “any group of people or individuals who might wish to intervene in the election of the Roman pontiff.” Finally, the electors swear that whoever is elected will carry out the “munus Petrinum of pastor of the universal church” and will “affirm and defend strenuously the spiritual and temporal rights and liberty of the Holy See.” Another section of the constitution says that the new pope is not bound by any oaths or promises made prior to his election. 

After the oath is taken, everyone not connected with the conclave is ordered out with the Latin words “Extra omnes,” “Everybody out!” The Sistine Chapel and the Domus Sanctae Marthae are then closed to unauthorized persons by the camerlengo. Outside the conclave, the camerlengo is assisted by the sostituto of the Secretariat of State, who directs Vatican personnel to protect the integrity and security of the conclave. 

After everyone else leaves, an ecclesiastic chosen earlier by the college of cardinals gives a meditation “concerning the grave duty incumbent on them and thus on the need to act with right intention for the good of the universal church, solum Deum prae oculis habentes[having only God before your eyes].” When he finishes, he leaves the Sistine Chapel with the master of papal liturgical ceremony so that only the cardinal electors remain. The time in the chapel is for prayer and voting in silence, not campaign speeches. Negotiations and arguments are to take place outside the chapel. If they wish, the cardinals can immediately begin the election process and hold one ballot on the afternoon of the first day. If no one receives the required two-thirds vote in the balloting on the afternoon of the first day, the cardinals meet again the next morning. 

How does the balloting take place? 

The regulations for balloting are very detailed to eliminate any suspicion of electoral fraud—no hanging chads here. Three “scrutineers” (vote counters) are chosen by lot from the electors, with the least senior cardinal deacon drawing the names. He draws three additional names of cardinals (called infirmarii) who will collect the ballots of any cardinals in the conclave who are too sick to come to the Sistine Chapel. A final three names are drawn by lot to act as revisers, who review the work done by the scrutineers. Each morning and afternoon, new scrutineers, infirmarii and revisers are chosen by lot. 

The electors use rectangular cards as ballots with “Eligo in summum pontificem” (“I elect as supreme pontiff”) printed at the top. When folded down the middle the ballot is only one inch wide. Each cardinal, in secret, prints or writes the name of his choice on the ballot in a way that disguises his handwriting. One at a time, in order of precedence, the cardinals approach the altar with their folded ballot held up so that it can be seen. After kneeling in prayer for a short time, the cardinal rises and swears, “I call as my witness Christ the Lord who will be my judge, that my vote is given to the one who before God I think should be elected.” He then places the ballot in a silver and gilded bronze urn shaped like a wok with lid. There is a second smaller urn for ballots cast in the Domus Sanctae Marthae by cardinals too ill to go to the Sistine Chapel. 

The first scrutineer shakes the egg-shaped urn to mix the ballots. The last scrutineer counts the ballots before they are unfolded. If the number of ballots does not correspond to the number of electors, the ballots are burned without being counted and another vote is immediately taken. If the number of ballots does match the number of electors, the scrutineers, who are sitting at a table in front of the altar, begin counting the votes. 

The first scrutineer unfolds the ballot, notes the name on a piece of paper and passes the ballot to the second scrutineer. He notes the name and passes the ballot to the third scrutineer, who reads it aloud for all the cardinals to hear. If there are two names on a single ballot, the ballot is not counted. The last scrutineer pierces each ballot with a threaded needle through the word “Eligo” and places it on the thread. After all the ballots have been read, the ends of the thread are tied together and the ballots thus joined are placed in a third urn. The scrutineers then add up the totals for each candidate. Finally, the three revisers check both the ballots and the notes of the scrutineers to make sure that they performed their task faithfully and exactly. 

To be elected, two thirds of the votes are required, calculated on the basis of the total number of electors present. Should it be impossible to divide the number of cardinals present into three equal parts, for the validity of the election one additional vote is required. Thus if all the current 120 cardinal electors are present, 80 votes would be required to elect a new pope. 

The ballots and notes (including those made by any cardinal) are then burned unless another vote is to take place immediately. The ballots are burned by the scrutineers with the assistance of the secretary of the conclave and the master of ceremonies, who adds special chemicals to make the smoke white or black. Since 1903, white smoke has signaled the election of a pope; black smoke signals an inconclusive vote. The only written record of the voting permitted is a document prepared by the camerlengo and approved by the three cardinal assistants, which is prepared at the end of the election and gives the results of each session. This document is given to the new pope and then placed in the archives in a sealed envelope that may be opened by no one unless the pope gives permission. 

How long can the conclave last? 

The conclave lasts until a new pope is elected. The last conclave to go more than five days was in 1831: it lasted 54 days. In the 13th century the papacy was vacant for a year and a half before the election of Innocent IV and for three and a half years before the installation of Gregory X. Since then 29 conclaves have lasted a month or more. Often wars or civil disturbances in Rome caused these lengthy interregnums. Sometimes delays were caused by the cardinals themselves, who enjoyed the power and financial rewards of running the papacy without a pope. These abuses led to rules governing an interregnum and requiring the speedy calling of a conclave. 

On the other hand, the 2005 conclave was over within 24 hours when Benedict was elected on the fourth ballot. 

What happens after the first day? 

If no one receives the required two thirds of the votes in the balloting on the afternoon of the first day, the cardinals meet again the next morning. If they are again unsuccessful, they immediately vote again. From then on, there can be two votes in the morning and two in the afternoon. Each morning and afternoon, new scrutineers, infirmarii and revisers are chosen by lot. If a second vote takes place, the materials from two votes are burned at the same time. Thus twice a day there will be black smoke from the stove until a pope is elected. 

If after three days the cardinals have still not elected anyone, the voting sessions can be suspended for a maximum of one day for prayer and discussion among the electors. During this intermission, a brief spiritual exhortation is given by the senior cardinal deacon. Then another seven votes take place, followed by a suspension and an exhortation by the senior cardinal priest. Then another seven votes take place, followed by a suspension and an exhortation by the senior cardinal bishop. Voting is then resumed for another seven ballots. 

If no candidate received a two-thirds vote after this balloting, Universi Dominici Gregis of John Paul II allowed an absolute majority (more than half) of the electors to waive the requirement of a two-thirds majority vote. Thus, an absolute majority of the electors could decide to elect the pope by an absolute majority. 

This innovation was criticized, by myself and others, as contrary to centuries of tradition. We pointed out that if an absolute majority of the electors favored a candidate in the first ballot of the first day of the conclave, the election could in practice be over because they could hold firm for about 10 to 12 days until they could change the rules and elect their candidate. In the past, the two-thirds requirement was an incentive for the electors to compromise or move to another candidate. Under John Paul’s rules, a majority did not have to compromise. It could hold tight, while the minority is pressed to give in since everyone knows that eventually the majority will prevail. In such a case, the minority would undoubtedly give in rather than scandalize the faithful and upset the man who inevitably would become pope. 

Cardinals who attended the 2005 conclave told John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter that they were very conscious of the fact that anyone who came close to a majority would be difficult to stop. 

John Paul II did not explain in Universi Dominici Gregis why he made this change. Perhaps he feared a long conclave. By giving the cardinals more comfortable quarters, he reduced the discomfort factor that discouraged long conclaves. Allowing the cardinals to elect a pope with an absolute majority reduces the likelihood of a conclave going on for months. 

In 2007 Pope Benedict overturned John Paul’s innovation and returned to the absolute requirement of a two-thirds majority. Instead, the pope instructed that if the cardinals are deadlocked after 33 or 34 votes (depending on whether there was a vote the first day), which would take 13 days, runoff ballots between the two leading candidates will be held. This procedure is problematic because if neither of the candidates is able to get a two-thirds vote, the conclave will be deadlocked with no possibility of choosing a third candidate as a compromise. The two leading cardinals cannot vote in the runoff ballots, though they remain in the Sistine Chapel, where conclaves are held. Nor do Benedict’s new rules say what to do if two candidates are tied for second place. 

Who can be elected? 

In theory, any man can be elected who is willing to be baptized and ordained a priest and bishop. He does not have to be at the conclave. The last noncardinal elected was Urban VI (1378). The last cardinal to be elected pope who was a priest but not a bishop was Gregory XVI (1831). Callistus III (Alfonso Borgia [or Borja] 1455) was the last person to be elected who was not a priest. Most likely a cardinal elector will be elected, all of whom today are bishops. 

Who might be elected? 

It should be remembered that prior to the death of John Paul II, no one in the media predicted the election of Cardinal Ratzinger. His name surfaced prominently only after John Paul’s death. As a result, prophets should be modest in their projections. It is better to speak of the qualities we might see in the next pope; then, at least, one has a chance of being partially right. 

The next pope will probably be a cardinal between 63 and 73 years of age who speaks Italian and English and reflects Benedict’s and John Paul’s positions (liberal on social justice and peace, traditional in church teaching and practice, and ecumenical but convinced the church has the truth) but has a very different personality from either John Paul or Benedict. 

Age. Prior to the 2005 conclave, I predicted the cardinals would choose someone between 62 and 72 years of age. I was wrong. Of the nine popes who reigned in the 20th century (beginning with Leo XIII), their average age at the time of election was 65 years, with John XXIII the oldest at 76 and John Paul II the youngest at 58. The average age of the current cardinals is 72. Benedict was 78 when elected, older than all but three popes elected by cardinals through the centuries. I would argue it is unlikely the cardinals will choose another old cardinal. 

Languages. John Paul and Benedict have shown how important it is for the pope to be multilingual. Italian is important because it is the language of the people of Rome, for whom the pope is diocesan bishop. It is also the working language of the Vatican Curia. English is important because it is almost everyone’s first or second language. Spanish is valuable because it is the language of so many Catholics. Languages are also important because the cardinals will want to be able to converse with the pope using a language in which they are comfortable. 

Positions. There was not a great amount of difference between Benedict and John Paul on the important issues facing the church, although Benedict was a little more conservative than John Paul on interreligious dialogue, ecumenism and liturgy and a little less activist in justice and peace issues. John Paul and Benedict have appointed all the current cardinals under the age of 80 who will elect Benedict’s successor. In appointing cardinals, John Paul II and Benedict have done what anyone would do if they were pope—they have appointed men who agree with them on the major issues that face the church. The next conclave, as a result, will not elect someone who will reject the legacy of John Paul or Benedict. With the next pope, we will see more continuity than change. 

As a result, there will be more continuity than change in church doctrine and policy. That means someone who is liberal on political and economic issues but traditional on sexual morality and internal church issues. Someone who supports ecumenical and interreligious dialogue but is convinced the church has the truth. In short, I do not support the “pendulum” theory when it comes to doctrine, but it may be true on personality and governance style (see below). 

Personality. While there will be a continuity in policy, there will be a change in personality because there is no one in the college with Benedict’s or John Paul’s personality and cloning is against church teaching. There is no one with a personality like John Paul’s in the college of cardinals, with a background as a Polish actor, intellectual and teacher who grew up under Nazism and Communism. Nor is there anyone like Benedict with his background as a German theologian and prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith who grew up in Germany during the Second World War. 

Less Centralization? Prior to the 2005 conclave, I predicted that when the cardinals gathered in conclave, they would praise John Paul “of happy memory,” but there might be a backlash against the Vatican Curia, whose power has grown during his papacy. Even the most conservative cardinal, I argued, wanted to run his diocese the way he thinks best without interference from Rome. The cardinals may therefore look, I argued, for someone who would support more decentralization of decision making in the church—more power to bishops and bishops’ conferences. Granted the election of Cardinal Ratzinger, who played a major role in centralizing power in Rome under John Paul’s papacy, I was obviously wrong. On the other hand, there have been complaints about the poor administration of the Vatican curia under Benedict—although his secretary of state, Cardinal Bertone, has borne the brunt of that criticism. As a result, some argue that the next pope should have greater administrative skills than his immediate predecessors. 

A Curial Cardinal? About two thirds of the cardinals are diocesan bishops who are running local churches. In the past, I argued that they would want someone who knows what it is like to be a local bishop, not simply a Vatican bureaucrat. Many cardinals working in the curia, like Cardinal Ratzinger, had diocesan experience before they came to Rome, and some Vatican officials left the curia and became cardinals as archbishops of local churches. These cardinals with both types of experience have an advantage. Of the popes elected during the 20th century, only Pius XII had no diocesan experience, and only three (Pius X, John Paul I and John Paul II) never worked in the Vatican. The remaining five had worked in the curia but were leaders of archdioceses when elected pope. 

What are the chances of an American being elected? 

Almost zero. First, although a number of the American cardinals are fluent in Spanish, Americans are not great linguists. Second, and most important, the cardinals would worry about how the election of an American would be perceived around the world, especially in the third world and Muslim nations. Many in the third world would suspect that the C.I.A. fixed the election or Wall Street bought it. Muslims would fear that an American pope was going to be a chaplain for the White House. Finally, through the centuries the church has tried to keep the papacy out of the hands of the reigning superpower, whether that was the Holy Roman Empire, France or Spain. When France captured the papacy, it moved it to Avignon in 1309, where it stayed until 1377. 

Who would you bet on to be the next pope? 

I am not Jimmy the Greek, nor do I gamble. If you want to know what a bookie thinks, see on who might succeed Benedict

What issues will be discussed in the conclave? 

Former House Speaker Tip O’Neil was correct: “All politics is local,” even in the Catholic Church. 

The cardinals from the third world have people who are starving and suffering from the negative impact of globalization of the economy. They will want a pope who will speak out for social justice and forgiveness of third-world debt and be willing to stand up to the American superpower. Cardinals from Africa and Asia are confronted by growing Islamic fundamentalism. They will want a pope who understands Islam and will not use inflammatory words like “crusade,” as did President George W. Bush. They want a pope who, like John Paul, will support dialogue with Muslims but at the same time stand up for the rights of Catholics. 

On the other hand, in Latin America there are few Muslims. The concern there is the evangelicals and Pentecostals who are “stealing their sheep.” 

In North America and Europe, the cardinals will want a pope who will continue the fight of Benedict against secularism and relativism but also support ecumenical dialogue with Protestants and Jews. Given the growing alienation of educated women, they would also want someone who projects an understanding of women’s concerns. The last thing they would want, for example, is a pope who would decide to get rid of altar girls. The American cardinals would also want someone who understands and supports what they are doing to deal with the sexual abuse crisis. Europeans are concerned about the growing number of Muslims in Europe. 

What happens after the election? 

The cardinal dean asks the elected man, “Do you accept your canonical election as supreme pontiff?” Since Cardinal Ratzinger was the dean, he was asked by the sub-dean. Since the dean and sub-dean are too old to attend the conclave, the most senior cardinal bishop, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, will perform do this. 

Rarely does anyone say no. When offered the papacy at the conclave in Viterbo in 1271, St. Philip Benizi fled and hid until another candidate was chosen. Likewise St. Charles Borromeo, one of the few cardinals to be canonized, turned down the papacy. When Cardinal Giovanni Colombo, the 76-year-old archbishop of Milan, began receiving votes during the conclave in October 1978, he made it clear that he would refuse the papacy if elected. If the man says yes, then he becomes pope immediately if he is already a bishop. The rest is simply ceremony. If he is not already a bishop, he is to be ordained one immediately by the cardinal dean and becomes pope as soon as this has been done. The dean in ancient times was the bishop of Ostia, a nearby town. 

He is then asked by what name he wants to be called. The first pope to change his name was John II in 533. His given name, Mercury, was considered inappropriate since it was the name of a pagan god. Another pope in 983 took the name John XIV because his given name was Peter. Reverence for the first pope precluded his becoming Peter II. At the end of the first millennium a couple of non-Italian popes changed their names to ones that the Romans could more easily pronounce. The custom of changing one’s name became common around the year 1009. The last pope to keep his own name was Marcellus II, elected in 1555. 

The cardinals then approach the new pope and make an act of homage and obedience. A prayer of thanksgiving is then said, and the senior cardinal deacon informs the people in St. Peters Square that the election has taken place and announces the name of the new pope. The pope then may speak to the crowd and grant his first solemn blessing “urbi et orbi,” to the city and the world. John Paul I and John Paul II prolonged the conclave until the following morning so that they could meet and dine with the cardinals. After his election, Benedict also invited all the cardinals to dinner at the Domus Sanctae Marthae. 

The inauguration Mass took place on Sunday, April 24, 2005, five days after the election (in the past this would have involved crowning the pope with the papal tiara, but since John Paul I, this involves the receiving of the pallium). Later still he takes possession of his cathedral, St. John Lateran.