Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI demands close look at rules of modern papal election

Last Updated: Thu, Feb 14, 2013 09:30 hrs

When Pope Benedict XVI ends his reign at the end of February he will be the first pope to do so before his death in nearly 600 years.

He shocked the Catholic Church by announcing his resignation and set in place a centuries-old process to select his successor.

The fascinating Conclaves system for electing a new pope, which has been in place since the late 1200s is described in "Creating the Rules of the Modern Papal Election," published in Election Law Journal, from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available on the Election Law Journal website.

Frederic J. Baumgartner, PhD, Professor of History, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, provides a comprehensive accounting of the early methods used to select a pope and the events leading up to the first Conclave.

He traces the arcane rules developed to guide the papal election process and notes that, "The system that has been in place has served the papacy well since the end of the Great Schism.

There has not been a serious challenge to the legitimacy of any pope since Martin V was elected in 1417. No other system of governance comes close to matching that record."

"The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI brings into the public spotlight the longest-standing system for conducting elections for the head of any institution on earth. Professor Baumgartner's article offers a lively and accessible summary of the development of the rules for papal elections, a must read for anyone interested in this important topic," Daniel Tokaji, Co-Editor of Election Law Journal and Robert M. Duncan/Jones Day Designated Professor of Law, The Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law, stated. (ANI)

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