Papal conclave

A papal conclave is a gathering of the College of Cardinals convened to elect a bishop of Rome, also known as the pope. The pope is considered by Catholics to be the apostolic successor of Saint Peter and earthly head of the Catholic Church.[1]

The 1492 conclave was the first to be held in the Sistine Chapel, the site of all conclaves since 1878.

Concerns around political interference led to reforms after the interregnum of 1268–1271 and Pope Gregory X's decree during the Second Council of Lyons in 1274 that the cardinal electors should be locked in seclusion cum clave (Latin for 'with a key') and not permitted to leave until a new pope had been elected.[2] Conclaves are now held in the Sistine Chapel of the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City.[3]

Since the Apostolic Age, the bishop of Rome, like other bishops, was chosen by the consensus of the clergy and laity of the diocese.[4] The body of electors was more precisely defined when, in 1059, the College of Cardinals was designated the sole body of electors.[5] Since then, other details of the process have developed. In 1970, Pope Paul VI limited the electors to cardinals under 80 years of age in Ingravescentem aetatem. The current procedures were established by Pope John Paul II in his apostolic constitution Universi Dominici gregis[3] as amended by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007 and 2013.[6] A two-thirds supermajority vote is required to elect the new pope.[7][8] The last papal conclave occurred in 2013, when Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as Pope Francis, succeeding Benedict XVI.