What are the requirements for being Pope?

Not really the question, but the full thing would be too long. What are the requirements for being eligible to be voted Pope? I’d guess “being male” would be one of them, and “be a Catholic” another; are there more?

In all seriousness, no, those are it. As Pope, of course, he has to be a bishop, but he need not be one at the time of election. There are, I believe, a few historical incidents where the Pope-elect was not a bishop at time of election – and, while not for Pope, St. Ambrose was a layman when chosen Archbishop and Patriarch of Milan, and was ordained deacon, priest, and bishop on each of three consecutive days before being installed in his new see.

In practice, of course, the Cardinals, all of whom are bishops and the vast majority archbishops of long experience, will normally choose one of their own number, and in any case a bishop with experience. But the minimum requirements for the job are to be a male baptized Catholic, one whom the College of Cardinals is led to choose for the job.

Wow. That was an incredibly accurate and brief post, comprising all relevant information.

Polycarp is one of the greatest people on here. Hurrah for Polycarp.

Does the Pope actually have to be male? Tradition and ‘Pope Joan’ aside, could the College of Cardinals elect a woman?

“Tradition aside” is begging the question, really.

Pretty sure you have to be Catholic.

Polycarp for Pope!

I thought that Poly was Episcopal? Or maybe Anglican …?

Sill, that would be cool. There’s been too many Catholic Popes for my tastes. That giant spider thing just really creeps me out.

Joan was a myth.

Father Guido Sarducci

It’s all about the hat.

WAYYYY back in my religeon class in grade school the teacher told us of an election back in the Middle Ages where they couldn’t come up with a suitable candidate, so they went with the Abbot of some monastery.

The guy couldn’t hack it, so he abdicated and went back to being the Abbot.

Don’t know what his name was, but I’m sure he wasn’t called “Bud”.

And also in the practical sense, the current Apostolic Constitutions & Canon Laws do provide for specific education, time-in-rank, time-in-service requirements for the orders from layman to deacon to priest to bishop. Those can be waived by a sitting Pope, but I recall from the time of the JP2/B16 succession that it’s not 100% clear if an interregnal Conclave gets that authority. Bricker is probably the one who can give us the exact Canon Law about this.

Indeed. As was, alas, the special chair with the hole in it on which a putative Pope would sit while a fellow Cardinal put his hand underneath and, if all was as it should be, solemnly asseverated, “Testiculos habet!”

Well, the space Pope is a reptile. It looks male though.

I’m pretty sure you’re thinking of Celstine V.

He was a monk who lived as an ascetic hermit. He didn’t really want to be Pope, and hated the job so much that he tried to leave it. Problem is, his successor, Boniface VIII, didn’t trust him (he feared constantly that enemies would try to re-install Celestine and use him as a puppet).

So, poor Celestine was kept imprisoned by Boniface… who MAY have murdered him (all we know for sure is, Celestine died in prison).

Interestingly, in Dante’s “Inferno,” Celestine is shown in Hell, for being a coward who shirked his duty.

Wasn’t that “special chair” a Roman birthing stool built for Roman empresses?

So they don’t have any toilets in the Vatican?


Being Pope requires being a bishop. Only males can be ordained bishops (or priests or deacons) in the Catholic church. So yes, the Pope must be male.

The Pope need not be a bishop at the time of his election. The Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis that sets out the current rules and regulations regarding papal elections makes that very clear in paragraph 88: