Monday, February 11

Electing a Pope

After Benedict's resignation on Feb. 28, a conclave, the meeting of the cardinals to choose the next pope, could occur as early as mid-March, according to the Guardian. Customarily, a pope's reign ends with his death, and a mourning period ensues.

Aside from the mourning period, all the same rules for succession selection are in place.

The conclave must begin between 15 and 20 days after Benedict's resignation, according to the Associated Press. Eligible cardinals under the age of 80 will place their votes in secret at the Sistine Chapel. Two votes are held each morning and two each afternoon until a new pope is chosen. The ballots are burned after each round. Black smoke means no new pope has been selected, and white smoke means someone has been selected.

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