How Is the Pope "Elected?"
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What Happens When the Pope Dies?
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When the Pope dies, Cardinal Camerlengo (the title of one of the cardinals) must verify his death. This was traditionally done by calling the Pope’s baptismal name 3 times (as opposed to the name he chose as Pope) without hearing a response. Today, this is still done, but his death is verified by medical staff.

Then, Cardinal Camerlengo takes the "ring of the fisherman" worn by the Pope and his papal seal and breaks them. Another ring is made for the newly elected Pope. Then, Cardinal Camerlengo and his staff make preparations for the Papal funeral rites and the novemdieles - the 9 days of morning for the deceased Pope.

During the interregnum, i.e. time during which there is no Pope, Cardinal Camerlengo directs the government of the Catholic Church. He arranges the funeral and burial of the Pope. He also directs the election of the new Pope, assisted by three Cardinals elected by the College of the Cardinals.

About 15 to 20 days after the death of the Pope, the cardinal electors enter the "conclave" to choose the new Holy Roman Pontiff. Up to 120 cardinal electors may be selected out of all the cardinals to enter the "conclave" to elect a new Pope, in which one of them will be elected (but technically any male in the world could be elected Pope, as we will discuss later).

Next, we’ll go over what is believed to occur in the conclave and secret ballot.