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Electing a new pope draws on tradition and secrecy

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The new pope

Once the election is decided, the dean of the College of Cardinals asks the winner, "Do you accept your canonical election as supreme pontiff?"

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It has been many centuries since the answer was no.

St. Philip Benizi, for one, fled a conclave in 1271 and hid until another candidate was chosen. St. Charles Borromeo declined in the 16th century, and Cardinal Robert Bellarmine declined in 1621.

The new pope is asked by what name he wants to be called. For the past 1,000 years, it has been the custom for the pope to change his name upon being elected. The last to keep his own name was Marcellus II, elected in 1555.

The cardinals make an act of homage and obedience to the new pope and join in a prayer of thanksgiving.

The senior cardinal-deacon then steps out onto the central balcony of St. Peter’s Square. He pronounces a Latin formula including the phrase, "Habemus papam [We have a pope]" and announces the name the new pontiff has taken.

The pope appears and gives his first "urbi et orbi" blessing to the city of Rome and the world.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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