“Habemus papam!” , We have a new Pope! – A Quick Mechanics of Electing a new Pope |

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March 13 by The Running Son

The new pope, 76, Jorge Mario Bergoglio (pronounced Ber-GOAL-io) will be called Francis, the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. He is also the first non-European leader of the church in more than 1,000 years.

The Next Pope


Once the new pope is elected, he meets with the Cardinal Deacon, the Secretary of the College of Cardinals, the Cardinal Dean, and the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations. The Cardinal Dean asks the elected pope two questions:

  1. Do you accept your canonical election as Supreme Pontiff?
  2. By what name do you wish to be called?


If the elected pope accepts, the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations certifies the acceptance by the new pope, as well as the pope’s choice of name. The elected person immediately becomes the Bishop of Rome, which gives him supreme power of the Catholic Church. Each Cardinal elector then approaches the newly elected pope to pay homage and show his obedience to the pope.

After an election, it is tradition for the oldest cardinal in conclave to step to the balcony above St. Peter’s Square and announce, “Habemus papam,” which means “We have a new pope.” The new pope then steps out on the balcony, addressing the world as pope for the first time, and imparts the Apostolic Blessing.

Once his inauguration is over, the new pope begins the day-to-day duties of papal responsibility. As spiritual leader of the world’s largest religious following, and as the Vatican’s head of state, the pope’s responsibilities are vast. Here are just a few of his duties and activities:

  • Serves as bishop of the archdiocese of Rome, providing spiritual guidance to its members
  • Appoints bishops and cardinals
  • Presides at beatification and canonization ceremonies
  • Spreads the word of the Roman Catholic Church through his travels
  • Writes documents that define the Catholic Church’s official position on issues facing the world
  • Confers with global leaders and politicians about these issues


The role of pope has evolved greatly in 2,000 years. At one time, the pope crowned emperors and carried military power. Today, the pope’s secular power and duties are diminished, but the position still carries great spiritual influence as the leader of the world’s largest religious sect.

For more information on the Papacy, the Catholic Church and related topics, check out the links on the next page.

New Life, New Name

As the newly elected pope accepts his new role, it is tradition for him to select a new name. This papal tradition dates to 533 and the election of Pope John II, whose birth name was Mercurius, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia. Mercurius is derived from Mercury, a pagan Roman god. Believing that a successor of St. Peter should not carry a name belonging to a pagan religion, Mercurius chose to change his name upon his election to honor a previous pope.

While some that followed John II chose to retain their original name, it soon became commonplace for new popes to choose a new moniker. The name change also symbolizes the new life that the new pope is entering as the head of the Catholic Church. Typically, the new pope selects the name of his favorite Saint or a former pope whom he admires.

John Paul II chose his name to honor his predecessor, John Paul I, who died just 33 days after being elected pope. John Paul I chose his name to honor predecessors Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI.


[ Repost from: http://people.howstuffworks.com/papacy4.htm ]

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RFB editor Jim Aldrich, Joshua Tree CA 2013

RunningSon aka Jim Aldrich, Joshua Tree CA 2013 | This site is dedicated with the deepest gratitude to Dr. Cláudio Naranjo, whose writings gave me life.

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