FROM JOHN THAVIS IN ROME
POPE BENEDICT XVI has stipulated that a two-thirds majority is always required to elect a new pope, undoing a more flexible procedure introduced by Pope John Paul II.
In a one-page document released on Tuesday the Pope said the two-thirds majority rule cannot be set aside even when cardinal-electors are at an impasse.
Instead the Pope instructed that if the cardinals are deadlocked after 13 days, run-off ballots between the two leading candidates will be held. A papal election will continue to require a majority of two thirds of the cardinals present.
In 1996 Pope John Paul introduced a change in the Conclave procedure that allowed cardinal-electors to move to a simple majority after 13 days, when 33 or 34 ballots had been held.
Pope Benedict said there had been significant requests for a return to the old rules, under which a two-thirds majority was always required.
The Pope effected the change by replacing two paragraphs of his predecessor's apostolic constitution, Universi Dominic! Gregis ("The Lord's Whole Flock"), a document that defined conclave procedures.
Under Pope Benedict's new rule, if a conclave has not elected a pope after 13 days, the cardinals will pause for a day of prayer, reflection and dialogue, then move to a runoff election.