VATICAN CITY (CNS): Pope Benedict XVI has stipulated that a two-thirds majority always is required to elect a new pope, undoing a more flexible procedure introduced by Pope John Paul II.
In a one-page document released on June 26, the Pope said the two-thirds-majority rule cannot be set aside even when cardinal-electors are at an impasse.
Instead, the Pope instructed that if the cardinals are deadlocked after 13 days, runoff ballots between the two leading candidates will be held. A papal election will continue to require a majority of two-thirds of the cardinals present.
In 1996, Pope John Paul introduced a change in the conclave procedure that allowed cardinal-electors to move to a simple majority after 13 days, when 33 or 34 ballots had been held.
Pope Benedict said there had been significant requests for a return to the old rules, under which a two-thirds majority was always required.
The Pope’s action also eliminates the possibility that a conclave stalemated between two strong candidates could turn to a compromise choice after the 13th day.
Pope Benedict was elected in 2005 on the second day of the conclave, after only three ballots.
Pope Benedict’s document, an apostolic letter issued only in Latin, was signed on June 11.
(Copyright Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.)
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