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Catholics learn about process of selecting new pope

115 cardinals are selecting next pope

MADISON, Wis. - The last time a pope was chosen was in 2005 following the death of Pope John Paul II.

Modern times have changed a few things, but, for the most part, the tradition of the conclave has lived on.

At Holy Redeemer Church in Madison, there's a sense of excitement among Catholics about the historic event of selecting a new pope.

Within the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, 115 cardinals are selecting the next leader of the Catholic Church.

Across the world, there's a great deal of interest in the process, including in the Madison area, where local experts are helping people understand the centuries-old process, which starts with a conclave.

"Conclave comes from the two Latin words that mean "with a key." So the cardinals are locked in. In former times, they were literally locked into the Sistine Chapel," said the Rev. Kevin Holmes, of Holy Redeemer Church.

Today, cardinals sleep in boarding rooms, within the Vatican and have no contact with the outside world.

It takes a two-thirds majority to select the next pope. Once that happens, white smoke will signal to the world that there's a new pope.

There was black smoke on Tuesday, meaning a vote happened but there was no winner.

Catholics learn about process of selecting new pope

Wednesday and beyond, the cardinals will vote four times every day.

Parishioner John Carey said he hasn't been glued to his TV, but he said the process is fascinating.

"Just the idea of the reverence and the solemnness -- all the tradition behind it. It's very awe inspiring to me," Carey said.

In the last 100 years, it has taken the conclave, on average, three days, to elect a new pope.

The most was five days and the least was 24 hours, so it's possible there will be a new pope by the end of this week.

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