Who can become the next pope?
Question from Brigid on 4/2/2005:
United States

Could you tell me what the basic requirements are to be elected pope?

Answered on 4/14/2005:

A Catholic, male, single, and capable of being ordained a bishop (cf. c.378, 1). Effectively, this would mean that he is already a priest, since without a Pope there is no apostolic authority to waive the requirements of Canon Law (cf. c.378, 2).

Canon 378
1. In order for a person to be a suitable candidate for the episcopacy it is required that he be:
(1) outstanding for his solid faith, good morals, piety, zeal for souls, wisdom, prudence and human virtues and endowed with the other talents which make him fit to fulfill the office in question;
(2) in possession of a good reputation;
(3) at least thirty-five years of age;
(4) ordained a priest for at least five years;
(5) in possession of a doctorate or at least a licentiate in sacred scripture, theology, or canon law from an institute of higher studies approved by the Apostolic See or at least truly expert in these same disciplines.
2. The definitive judgment concerning the suitability of the person to be promoted belongs to the Apostolic See.

Practically, however, it is virtually certain the new Pope will be elected from among the Cardinals, all but one of whom

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