In recent history (by secular standards), this procedure would never have been used. Overall, the elections since 1800 has resulted in a pope in between 3 and 14 ballots, except the Conclave of 1830-1831. On December 14, 1830, the 45 cardinal-electors entered the Sistine Chapel, celebrated the entire Christmas season and emerged on February 2, 1831 with a new pontiff, Pope Gregory XVI after an astronomical 83 ballots.
MOTU PROPRIO CONCERNING ELECTION OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
VATICAN CITY, JUN 26, 2007 (VIS) – Made public today was a “Motu Proprio,” written in Latin, with which the Holy Father Benedict XVI restores the traditional norm concerning the majority required for the election of the Supreme Pontiff. According to this norm, in order for the election of a new Pope to be considered valid it is always necessary to reach a majority of two thirds of the cardinals present.
With this document, Benedict XVI substitutes the norm established by John Paul II who, in his 1996 Apostolic Constitution “Universi Dominici gregis,” laid down that the valid quorum for electing a new Pope was initially two thirds but that, after three days of voting without an election, there would be a day dedicated to reflection and prayer, without voting. Thereafter, voting would resume for seven additional ballots, another pause for reflection, another seven ballots, another pause and yet another seven ballots. After which an absolute majority was to decide how to proceed, either for a vote by absolute majority or with balloting between two candidates. This was to happen only in the event that the cardinals arrived at the 33rd or 34th ballot without a positive result.
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