Scholarly Horizons: University of Minnesota, Morris Undergraduate Journal


This research paper seeks to identify and explain external and internal factors, including international conflict, ecclesiastical norms, and the actions, styles, and reputations of popes in their life times, in the elections of popes in the Roman Catholic Church from 1846 to 2013.

Using historical context is important in identifying the international, social, and political climate that the conclaves were held in. Analyzing the papacies of the individual popes is another important aspect of this research. One pontificate begins when another ends. It would therefore be unproductive to disregard the successes and shortcomings of the popes after their elections. The conclaves over the last 160 years have been influenced by a changing world and a changing church. By looking at the key figures within the conclaves and international events in the world we can identify what the cardinals were attempting to accomplish with their choices. The unification of Italy, Two World Wars, The Second Vatican Council, social ideology, internal scandal and tradition, and globalization all influenced the outcomes of this ancient process to varying degrees since 1846.