Benedict XVI Changes Papal Election Rule

New Popes Must Receive Two-thirds Majority

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 26, 2007 ( Benedict XVI has re-established that a two-thirds majority will always be required for the election of a Pope.

The Holy Father decreed the norm in a June 11 "motu proprio" written in Latin. It was published today by L'Osservatore Romano and is effective immediately.

Pope John Paul II's 1996 apostolic constitution "Universi Dominici Gregis" had allowed for the possibility that cardinal-electors, after having held 33 or 34 ballots with no positive results, could move to an absolute majority vote.

They could also decide to proceed either with a runoff between the two candidates who had received the greatest number of votes or to maintain an open ballot.

Benedict XVI's "motu proprio" explains that after the publication of the 1996 constitution, John Paul II received requests to return to the traditional norm, that is, that a two-thirds majority always be required.

The new norm states that if the cardinal-electors are at an impasse after 33 or 34 ballots, runoff ballots between the two leading candidates will be held. A two-thirds majority is needed in that election.

The "motu proprio" further establishes that the two candidates themselves cannot vote, and removes the possibility of continuing with an open ballot.