2005 papal conclave

Papal conclave
April 2005
Sede vacante.svg
Coat of arms during the vacancy of the Holy See
Dates and location
18–19 April 2005
Sistine Chapel, Apostolic Palace,
Vatican City
Key officials
DeanJoseph Ratzinger
Sub-DeanAngelo Sodano
CamerlengoEduardo Martínez Somalo
ProtopriestStephen Kim Sou-hwan
ProtodeaconJorge Medina Estévez
SecretaryFrancesco Monterisi
Elected Pope
Joseph Ratzinger
Name taken: Benedict XVI
Papa Benedetto.jpg

The papal conclave of 2005 was convened to elect a new pope following the death of Pope John Paul II on 2 April 2005. After his death, the cardinals of the Catholic Church who were in Rome met and set a date for the beginning of the conclave to elect his successor. Of the 117 eligible members of the College of Cardinals, those younger than 80 years of age at the time of the death of Pope John Paul II, all but two attended. After several days of private meetings attended by both cardinal electors and non-voting cardinals, the conclave began on 18 April 2005. It ended the following day after four ballots with the election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. After accepting his election, he took the pontifical name of Benedict XVI.


Pope John Paul II laid out new procedures for the election of his successor in his Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici gregis in 1996.[1] It detailed the roles of the cardinals and support personnel, the scheduling of the conclave, the text of oaths, penalties for violating secrecy, and many details, even the shape of the ballots ("the ballot paper must be rectangular in shape"). He denied the cardinals the right to choose a pope by acclamation or by assigning the election to a select group of cardinals. He established new voting procedures the cardinals could follow if the balloting continued for several days, but those were not invoked in this conclave. He maintained the rule established by Paul VI that cardinals who reached the age of eighty before the day the pope died would not participate in the balloting.

In previous conclaves, the cardinal electors lived in the Sistine Chapel precincts throughout the balloting. Conditions were spartan and difficult for those with health problems. Showers and bathroom facilities were shared and sleeping areas separated by curtains.[2] John Paul kept the voting in the Sistine Chapel, but provided for the cardinal electors when not balloting to live, dine, and sleep in air-conditioned individual rooms in Domus Sanctae Marthae, better known by its Italian name Casa Santa Marta, a five-story guesthouse, completed in 1996, that normally serves as a guesthouse for visiting clergy.

The cardinals departed from his instructions only in that they did not assemble in the Pauline Chapel. Restoration work begun in 2002 required a change of venue,[3] and they used the Hall of Blessings instead.