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Who Is the Pope & How Does He Get Elected

by Rain Man
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The Resurrection

The pope is undoubtedly the most prestigious position in the Catholic landscape. Such is his relevance, that you can even bet on his election at top-rated sportsbooks. The prestigiousness of his position owes to its rich history according to Catholic tradition.

This tradition holds that Jesus, held by all Christians to be their Lord and Savior, founded the papacy. Jesus appointed Peter, one of his apostles, as the first pope.

It is famously written in the Bible: “Thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church.”

The Pope’s Function

The pope is a part of this history that begins with Jesus. As such, he is symbolically viewed as a descendant of Peter, who formed a kind of bridge between Jesus and the rest of humanity.

Because the pope is the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church community, he is essentially the leader of the Catholic faith. This puts him ahead of the billion-plus Catholics in the world who reside in all corners of the globe.

He advises his “flock” in terms of faith. As a spiritual leader, he also has a say in matters that extend to the sphere of morality. His role in giving an answer to moral judgments makes him directly relevant for questions that are viewed as pressing and controversial, such as abortion.

In addition to weighing in on such intensely personal questions, he also weighs in on public questions of great importance. For example, he will intervene in diplomatic circles and offer suggestions as to when a country, such as Ukraine, should surrender.

Given the value placed on his thoughts, he has met with worldwide leaders including Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

His activities also extend to the more local and commonplace. Pilgrims, ordinary Catholics, from around the world will commonly seek him out in his home in the Vatican City. He will grant them an audience.

Other functions that he leads include Christmas Mass. These activities require him to speak with people around the world, prompting him to be able to speak several different languages, ranging from German to English.

Who Is the Pope Today?

The history of the papacy has extended from Peter to Francis. Pope Francis is the current pope, the 266th pope in papal history. He was elected in 2013, which is when he became Francis after being born as Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

Pope Francis

The 87-year-old called himself Francis in honor of the first pope who came from the Americas – Pope Francis was born in Argentina.

The Election of the Pope

The pope is elected for the duration of his lifetime. One is expected, as the pope, to serve in this role until one’s death. Only one pope has resigned during his lifetime.

Because of the prestigiousness of the pope’s position and because of the duration of the pope’s occupation of his position, his election is a tremendous deal. Just think how much importance we attach to the election of the President, who serves a four-year term and presides over this country. You can imagine how much more important the pope’s election is.


The pope is elected in a tradition enriched with secretive components. Participants of this closed-door voting process are threatened with excommunication if they discuss what transpires.

Voting happens in a private meeting that takes place called a conclave. The meeting is occupied by cardinals who must be under the age of 80 in order to vote. These cardinals travel to Rome where they proceed to the Sistine Chapel in order to congregate for this secret event. Each one votes anonymously.

Underneath the words “Eligo in Summum Pontificem,” which means “I elect as supreme pontiff,” each cardinal writes down the name of his preferred candidate. When the votes are counted, they are burned. If a candidate has received the requisite majority of votes –two-thirds, to be exact–, then the smoke will be white, indicating that a new pope has been elected.

Accepting The Burden

Upon receiving sufficient votes, the pope has to complete formal requirements.

The dean of the College of Cardinals will formally ask him if he accepts the results of the election. If the elected pope assents, then he gets to choose his name. He dons his new clothing in the so-called Room of Tears.

Popes cry in this room because they realize that they have sacrificed, for the remainder of their earthly existence, any privacy that they hitherto might have enjoyed. After dressing himself up in white, the pope will address and bless the Catholics waiting for him outside.

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Rain Man
Hailing from Maryland, Rainman pursued his undergraduate studies at the University of Virginia, with an academic journey that spanned six different universities across the United States and Germany. It was during his time in Alabama that he delved into the world of sports betting. Rainman finds joy in watching and betting on a wide array of sports, passionately supporting his Wahoos, Jacksonville Jaguars, St. Louis Cardinals, and VfB Stuttgart.

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