Religion: Election Trends

On June 19, the members of the Sacred College of Cardinals, each to be accompanied by one aide, will assemble in the Sistine Chapel. Vatican officials will ritually inspect the chapel and adjoining apartments for unauthorized persons, and then lock the prelates in. They will not reappear until two-thirds of the cardinals have selected someone to be the next Bishop of Rome, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church and Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth.

Theoretically, any male Roman Catholic who has reached the age of reason can be elected Pope. In practice, the possibilities have always been easily narrowed down to...

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