Friday, June 26, 2009

Habemus Benedict

In the Catholic Church, "sede vacante" (literally "vacant seat") is declared when a Pope passes away or resigns. Within twenty days, the Cardinals are assembled in private in the Sistine Chapel to choose the new Pope by two-thirds majority. After each vote, the ballots are burned, and black smoke is let out through a chimney to let the surrounding city, and world, know that they have not yet come to a decision. When they make their choice, white smoke is released and the bells of the city ring, celebrating the declaration "habemus papam" (literally, "we have a Pope"). On April 2, 2005, John Paul II passed away. That April 18, Johannes Koehler posted sede vacante to note the first day's work of the College of Cardinals. The next day altered his creation to make habemus papam, noting the choice of Joseph Ratzinger, who took the name Pope Benedict XVI.

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