Skip to main contentAccessibility feedback
Background Image

How to Become Pope in 5 Minutes

Jimmy Akin

Have you ever wondered how the process of becoming pope works?

Here’s a five minute video that explains it quite well.

It’s actually a pretty good summary of how the process works (with some humor thrown in), though there are a few missteps (see below).

Incidentally, the odds of any particular person becoming pope are rather long.

There are more than a billion Catholics in the world, but there is only one pope at a time, so the odds are literally a billion to one–assuming you measure the odds from a person’s birth.

If you pick a closer point, like the point at which they enter the college of cardinals, the odds are much higher, though still small.

There are a few flaws in the vid, so just be aware . . . 

1) It wrongly implies that the pope can simply veto the name of a potential bishop that is presented to him, causing the process to start over.

In reality, the names of all three proposed bishops are presented to the pope, who may choose the recommended one, another one, select another person entirely, or call for the process to start over.


2) It wrongly refers to the “Congress of Bishops” in Rome. Actually, it’s the Congregation for Bishops.


3) It wrongly states that have to pick your new name before becoming pope. Actually, this is the first thing a pope does after being elected and accepting his office.

Assuming he’s already a bishop (the scenario that the video presupposes), he becomes pope that moment, before they ask him what name he wants to be called by.


4) The video wrongly states that “it’s usually at least two weeks of voting” at a conclave.

Not in recent history. In the 20th century (and 21st) no conclave has gone over 5 days. See this handy infographic:

Did you like this content? Please help keep us ad-free
Enjoying this content?  Please support our mission!