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More from's tribute to Pope John Paul II

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Remaining Steps in Selecting New Pope

By The Associated Press -- Remaining steps in the process of selecting a new pope under rules laid down by the late Pope John Paul II in 1996:

  • The College of Cardinals on Wednesday at 10 a.m. (4 a.m. EDT) holds the latest in series of meetings in preparation for the conclave. Among unfinished business: setting a date for the start of the conclave to elect the next pope and reading John Paul's will.
  • Public viewing of the pope's body continues in St. Peter's Basilica on Wednesday, and lasts as long as people come in the days leading up to the funeral Friday.
  • Appointments of top Vatican officials cease but assistants continue routine business. College of Cardinals temporarily governs the Roman Catholic Church. The chamberlain continues to organize conclave where the cardinals will choose a new pope.
  • The conclave begins 15-20 days after the pope's April 2 death.
  • Cardinals eligible to vote - those under age 80 - are sequestered within Vatican City and take oath of secrecy.
  • Any baptized Roman Catholic male is eligible for election as pope, but only cardinals have been selected since 1378.
  • Two ballots held each morning and two each afternoon in the Sistine Chapel. If no one gets the required two-thirds majority after about 12 days, cardinals may change procedure and elect pope by simple majority.
  • Ballots burned after each round. Black smoke means no decision; white smoke signals that cardinals have chosen pope and he has accepted. The Vatican says bells will also signal the election of a pope to help avoid possible confusion over color of smoke coming from chimney of the Sistine Chapel.
  • New pope introduced at St. Peter's Square and imparts his first blessing.

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