Why It’s Different This Time

It’s not just the fact of a papal resignation, it’s the lack of an obvious successor, the relatively large number of cardinals for whom this will be their second conclave (50 compared with just two last time around), the maelstrom of scandal that may or may not have precipitated the Pope’s decision to quit, and the new – actually old – rule that requires a two-thirds majority for any Pope to emerge, however long that takes. John Allen has a solid, very helpful primer on the whole thing here.