Expert Answer Forum

Election of a Pope QUESTION from Patrick December 13, 2000 I have a few questions regarding the election of the Pope. 1)Did St. Peter really appoint his successor or was he elected afer Peter's death...I have heard both.
2)I read recently that if there is not a clear decisive election, even by the true majority (half plus 1) they could elect a Pope who will die soon. The reasoning behind this as I understand it is to allow the College of Cardinals to dispurse. I don't get what good that will do?
3)During the interregnum, it is the Camerlengo who is responsible for the government of the Church. He must arrange the funeral and burial of the Pope. He directs the election of a new pope, assisted by three Cardinals, elected by the College of Cardinals, with three new Cardinals elected every three days. What does this mean...elect three new Cardinals every three days? Why aren't the Cardinals we have now enough?

ANSWER by Mrs. Suzanne Fortin, B.A. on December 16, 2000 Dear Patrick
1) I don't believe it is possible to know whether St. Peter chose St. Linus as his successor or whether St. Linus was elected. We have almost no information about Peter's activities in Rome, and we have even less about St. Linus. If I had more information about the events surrounding Peter's death, I could make a guess, but we're not even certain of the year of his death or whether he was crucified upside down as small-t tradition says.
2) Under the new rules promulgated by His Holiness Pope Jonh-Paul II, if, after 30 rounds of voting, no pope is elected with a 2/3 majority, the new pontiff may be elected with a simply majority (50% +1). The choice of an old pope is not one that is obligatory. Rather, if you look at an article on papal elections at, you will see that the election of an old pope is a strategy that can hypothetically be used for whatever reason, e.g. for ideological purposes: to elect an old pope and bide for time until enough support for a more desireable liberal/conservative candidate is gained. This is a compromise measure so that papal elections do not last too long. The ideal is to have a new pope within weeks of his predecessor's death, and this new measure increases the likelihood that papal elections do not drag on for months.
3) Your quote is not referring to the creation of new cardinals. Only popes can create cardinals. Rather, it is the cardinals who assist the Cardinal Camerlengo who are up for election every three days.
Thank you for your question.
Have a Blessed Feast of the Nativity, Suzanne Fortin
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