Understanding The Papal Conclave - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Understanding The Papal Conclave

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Catholics all around the globe are waiting to hear who will be their new leader, with the holy week that includes Palm Sunday and Easter coming up at the end of March.

FOX's Amy Kellogg reports from Rome with exactly how a new pope will be chosen.

Cardinals from all over the world will start preparatory meetings Friday to decide when the closed-door session will start. Once the conclave begins, cardinals will gather in the Sistine Chapel, chanting the "Litany of Saints" as they file in.

The cardinals are locked in to keep the proceedings secret and to ward off any outside influence. For some, it will be their first time going through this secretive process.

Cardinals will write their choice for the next pope on a ballot. Only those under 80 years-old are eligible to cast a vote, making the number of electors at this conclave 115.

One round of voting will take place on the first day of conclave, but after that, four rounds will be held each day until there is a two-thirds majority.

The only way the world knows what's going on inside the conclave is through smoke signals coming from the chapel when ballots are burned following votes. Black smoke means no pope was chosen, but white smoke alerts Catholics that a new leader has been selected.

After the white smoke signal, the Latin phrase "Habemus papam!" is announced from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica. It means, "We have a pope!"

FOX 29's Iain Page will cover the historic conclave for you live from the Vatican.

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