Election of Pope Trivia Quiz

Can you pass this quiz? 

1) When is the last time a Pope stepped down?
2) Who chooses the next Pope?
3) How many Cardinals are there?
4) How many Cardinals are eligible to vote?
sede vacante 25) How many Cardinals will be voting?
6) What is the meeting of the Cardinals called?
7) How many Cardinals live in Rome?
8) Who is praying for the election of the next Pope?
9) Where are they voting?
10) What is the maximum number of electors?
11) What does conclave mean?
12) What do we call the period when we have no official Pope?
13) How many votes are needed?
14) What does the white and black smoke mean?
15) How often do the Cardinals vote?
16) What is Pope Benedict XVI’s new name?
17) What happened to Pope Benedict XVI’s ring?
18) Who’s in charge until we have a new Pope?
19) What does Habemus Papam mean?
20) How can I be a part of the process?


1) 600 years ago. Okay, so you heard it in the news. Pope Gregory XII stepped down in 1415 to end the Great Western Schism when there were 2 and even 3 rival claims to the papacy. Technically, the Pope does not resign, he abdicates the Chair of Peter.

2)The College of Cardinals. One easy point!

3) There are currently 203 Cardinals from 69 countries.

4) Since Cardinals over 80 may not vote, there are 117 Cardinals eligible to vote. Yep, that’s right. Quite a few are over 80.

5) Besides those Cardinals over 80, the Cardinals from Jakarta and Edinburgh will not be voting. Therefore, 115 Cardinals will be voting. Ha! Fooled you. The answer to 5 is not the same answer as 4.

6) Conclave. Gosh! I want you to feel good about yourself. You know something.

7) 75 Cardinals live in Rome (But they are from all over the world).

8) Besides many faithful Catholics, (especially at the beginning of each mass), a group of contemplative religious sisters from Mexico is praying in the Basilica.

9) The conclave takes place in the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City.

10) Although over 140 Cardinals have come to Rome, the maximum number of electors is 120 Cardinals. Cardinals over 80 can attend the general congregations and discuss issues but once the conclave begins they are not able to partake in it.

11) The word conclave is derived from the Latin cum clavis meaning “with [a] key”–they are under lock and key–although for living accommodations, they will actually be staying at Casa Santa Marta–a Vatican residence with hotel conveniences. During this time, the Cardinals may not have radios, TVs, newspapers, internet connection, or cell phones. All contact with the outside world is prohibited. If they meet anyone outside of the conclave, they are forbidden to talk to them.

12) “Sede Vacante” or “empty seat”. You were wondering if you were ever going to use your Latin.

13) Pope John Paul II changed the rule to a simple majority, but Pope Benedict XVI changed the rule back to two-thirds majority or two-thirds plus one.

14) The black smoke means they have voted, but they do not have the required votes for a new Pope. White smoke means we have a new Pope! The white smoke is confirmed by the ringing of bells.

15) They have the option to vote on the first day of the conclave. From the second day 2 ballots are held in the morning and 2 in the afternoon. If after 3 days a decision is not made, they may pause for one day of prayer and discussion. Ballots are burned twice a day with the smoke rising at those times.

16) Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

17) The papal ring was destroyed, the papal apartment locked and sealed, the Pope’s twitter account closed and the Swiss Guards went off-duty.

18) Until the new Pope is elected, the Cardinal Chamberlain, Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, is the man in charge of operating the Church. He will be assisted by three Cardinals, who are randomly chosen and replaced every three days.

19) We have a Pope! After the Pope is elected, the Dean of Cardinals steps onto the balcony of the Vatican and announces “We have a Pope!”

20) You can join others in praying for the voting Cardinals that they be open to the Holy Spirit in choosing our next Holy Father. adoptacardinal.org

Prayer for the Election of a New Pope

O God, eternal shepherd, who govern your flock with unfailing care, grant in your boundless fatherly love a pastor for your Church who will please you by his holiness and to us show watchful care. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Elizabeth Yank is a freelance writer who has been published in a number of Catholic publications, including Faith and Family, National Catholic Register, Lay Witness, and others.

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