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A glimpse inside the papal conclave

The Vatican ritual, designed for discretion, where Catholic cardinals will choose the next pope

Last Updated: Feb. 27, 2013

Soon, 115 cardinals – the pope's most senior advisers – will convene at the Vatican to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI. They'll enter a conclave: a tradition-rich election process that pre-dates anything found in most modern democracies.



Discretion is a top concern; great pains are taken to ensure the deliberations stay secret. But the actual rules for the election are quite transparent, laid out by Pope John Paul II in his 1996 document Universi Dominici Gregis.




Source: Universi Dominici Gregis, Pope John Paul II, 1996

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