Vatican City Pope Benedict XVI has changed the rules for electing a new pope, returning to the traditional requirement that two-thirds of the cardinals in the conclave agree on a candidate, the Vatican said Tuesday.
Pope John Paul II had altered the voting process in 1996, allowing the pope to be chosen by an absolute majority if the cardinals were unable to agree after several days of balloting in which a two-thirds majority was needed.
In a document released Tuesday, Benedict said he was returning to the traditional voting norm, essentially reversing John Paul's reform of the centuries-old process.
Analysts had noted that the original two-thirds requirement had served as an incentive to compromise or find a new candidate in the event of a deadlock.
But with John Paul's new rules, the majority bloc in a conclave could push a candidate through by simply holding tight until the balloting shifted from the two-thirds requirement to an absolute majority.
"It would seem that Pope Benedict wants to ensure that whoever is elected pope enjoys the greatest possible consensus," said the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi.