Election of a Pope

Find out more about the procedure following the death or resignation of the Pope and how a new Pope is elected as Bishop of Rome and successor of St Peter.

The procedure following the death of the Pope was revised by the Vatican in February 1996.

The new document Universi Dominici Gregis – The shepherd of the Lord’s whole flock – replaces the previous instruction of 1975 from Pope Paul VI.

In February 2013, the norms were amended slightly by Benedict XVI’s final Motu Proprio Normas nonnullas.

Resignation of a Pope

The possibility of the resignation of a reigning Pontiff is recognised in the Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church.

When a Pope Dies

Details of the procedures followed immediately after the death of a Pope.

The Electors

Since 1059, the election of the Pope has been reserved to the cardinals alone and this is their principal function this is the first thing said about them in the Church's Code of Canon Law.

College of Cardinals

What can the college of Cardinals do during the vacancy of the Apostolic See?

The Conclave

What is "the Conclave" and what happens at one?

The Election

What is the method for choosing a new Pope?

The Ballots

The voting process to elect a new Pope.

Resolving Deadlock

What happens upon a deadlock vote?

Observance of Secrecy

Details about the level of secrecy Cardinals maintain during Conclave.

The New Pope

The Latin announcement Habemus Papam! - "We Have a Pope!" - is given from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.