How to Become a Pope: 14 Steps (with Pictures)

Table of contents:

How to Become a Pope: 14 Steps (with Pictures)
How to Become a Pope: 14 Steps (with Pictures)

The pope is the head of the Catholic Church. Technically, the only requirements for becoming the high priest of this religion are to be a male and a practicing Catholic. So the field becomes quite wide, but every pontiff in recent centuries has been a cardinal elected in a papal conclave by other cardinals. To become pope, start by becoming a priest and move up through the Catholic hierarchy until you are elected by your fellows. Remember that it is essential to believe completely in the Catholic faith, as this is not just an office, but a vocation.


Part 1 of 3: Becoming a Priest

Become Pope Step 1

Step 1. Become Catholic

To be a pope, you must first be a man and a Catholic. If you were not born into this faith, you will have to become a process called Ritual of Christian Initiation.

  • The process will take time, as you will have to learn the Catholic faith and the workings of the church by going through catechism.
  • You will need to be baptized at the end of your Catholic education.
  • Becoming a Catholic is an exploration of the faith, and to do so, you will have to be guided and guided. Contact a local church to begin the process.
Become Pope Step 2

Step 2. Think about your inclination towards the religious life

Being a priest is not just a job; It's a lifestyle. Make sure you are aware of all requirements. Catholic priests cannot marry or engage in sexual activities.

  • Spend time thinking about your vocation. Consider your talents. Are you compassionate? Is your faith great? Are you happy with your inclination? These are important qualities for a priest.
  • Ask for advice. Talk to the priest in your area and ask about his experience. Ask specific questions such as what he does in his role. Then reflect on the path you feel you should follow and whether or not you want to be a priest.
Become Pope Step 3

Step 3. Take a leadership role

As you get older, you can begin to think more about whether to pursue a career as a spiritual leader and whether that decision is right for you. Many dioceses around the world offer leadership programs for Catholic youth. Ask your parish priest if this option is available to you. Many of these programs have courses in leadership development and spiritual growth, and they can strengthen your faith and make your vocation easier to understand.

  • Enrolling in a leadership program can help you know what skills you will need to assume a more authoritative role within the Church as your career progresses to the higher grades.
  • If your church does not offer a leadership program, see if there is a scholarship program that allows you to attend classes in another region.
Become Pope Step 4

Step 4. Educate yourself

You will need specific education to become a priest. First, complete high school. During this time, you can already begin your journey towards the papacy. It would be helpful to learn a foreign language, for example. The pope is an international figure, so communication is an excellent skill to learn, especially if you become pope yourself.

Talk to an advisor. Some high schools have counselors or guidance counselors who can help you design a life plan for after graduation. Ask this person to help you look for seminars and degree programs in theology to advance your career

Become Pope Step 5

Step 5. Continue education

You will have to attend a traditional college or seminary to become a priest. To enter the seminar, you will need to go through a selection process that will involve interviews and tests. The seminary is a faculty that educates potential priests, and there are several of them spread throughout Brazil and the world.

  • Some young people go to traditional college before deciding to become priests. It is common for them to start graduate school after obtaining a university degree.
  • Graduate studies are carried out at a university-affiliated school of theology. In it, the title of master or doctor in theology is obtained.
Become Pope Step 6

Step 6. Choose the right education

Your spiritual journey is important, so deciding where to get the skills you need to follow your vocation is a relevant choice. Think of several different schools and ask yourself if you want a comprehensive spiritual education or if you just want to focus on learning more about Catholic doctrine. Visit the campus before making the final decision.

  • Talk to students at the institution you plan to study and ask about their experiences.
  • Think about how that particular course will help you grow spiritually and intellectually.

Part 2 of 3: Advancing the Career

Become Pope Step 7

Step 1. Be a good priest

After becoming a priest, you will need to become excellent in your role. This is the best way to get a promotion in Church offices. A good priest is trustworthy and helps members of the Church and community.

  • As a priest, you will be responsible for the spiritual well-being of your congregation, perform sacraments, conduct masses, and hear confessions.
  • The title of "monsignor" is given to exemplary priests.
Become Pope Step 8

Step 2. Hone your social skills

Once you become a priest, all of your promotions will be given by appointment, meaning you will need to make a good impression on those in leadership roles above you. Try to get along well with other people in the same industry.

  • Be a good communicator. You can't have trouble speaking in public. This is a role you already have as a priest, but it will become more important as you advance in the Church. Be clear and confident when speaking.
  • Work well with others. You will have to coordinate other priests when you become a bishop or a cardinal. Listen to other people's needs and try to deliver instructions effectively.
Become Pope Step 9

Step 3. Become a bishop

The bishop is, in essence, the head priest of the diocese. This is the territory or region that contains churches under the authority of a bishop. The archbishop governs his own diocese and oversees other bishops, and the pope is responsible for choosing all bishops. So you will have to make a good impression on those who advise the pope.

  • Communicate regularly with the Archbishop of your region. He may offer a positive recommendation when someone asks what he thinks of you.
  • Bishops meet regularly to set policies and liturgy standards for their region.
  • The pope is responsible for appointing bishops and, for that, depends on the recommendations of the existing bishops.
  • Remember you cannot stand as a bishop; it must be indicated.
  • The main advisor to the pope in this process is the apostolic nuncio. He is the pontiff's representative to the government and hierarchy of the Church in each country.
Become Pope Step 10

Step 4. Become Cardinal

This is a bishop chosen by the pope to receive this special assignment. The Catholic Church's high priest selects archbishops to serve as cardinals for a specific diocese. Not all regions have a cardinal.

  • Areas with significant Catholic populations are often where the pope chooses to establish a cardinal.
  • Live in a region with a cardinal. You probably won't make it to that position if you're in a small rural population.
  • After becoming a bishop, maintain a positive relationship with your region's cardinal. Make it clear that you are eager to serve the Church and demonstrate your effective administrative skills.
  • Cardinals are active in the administration of the Catholic Church.
  • There is no formal application or interview process to reach this position. You need to be nominated by the pope.

Part 3 of 3: Being elected pope

Become Pope Step 11

Step 1. Prepare for the appointment

As it takes a few decades for a new pope to be chosen, it is important to be prepared. Keep in communication with the members of the College of Cardinals. By this point, you should have established a good professional reputation. As the conclave approaches, keep working to demonstrate that you would be a positive public figure.

  • In the days following the pope's funeral, cardinals gather to prepare for the conclave. This is where the politicking takes place. Find out who your supporters are.
  • Make it clear to the other cardinals that you are willing to accept the appointment.
Become Pope Step 12

Step 2. Understand the conclave

This is the official process for electing a pope. In it, the governing group of cardinals, known as the College of Cardinals, meets to choose a new pontiff in the Sistine Chapel. All others are barred from entry. "Conclave" in Latin literally means "locked in."

  • Generally, the current pope must die for the conclave to meet. It is very rare for someone in this role to resign.
  • Cardinals meet 15 to 20 days after the pope's death to take a secret ballot.
  • Only cardinals and some exceptions, such as a medical team, can enter the chapel.
  • Each cardinal must solemnly swear to abide by the conclave rules as written by Pope John Paul II.
  • After the first day of the conclave, two votes may be taken each morning and two each afternoon.
Become Pope Step 13

Step 3. Get the most votes

"Campaigning" for the pope is not considered appropriate, but being a respected and well-known cardinal is a job that only a small group will do. Generally, only a select group of candidates is considered in the conclave. The one who receives the most votes is elected the new pope.

  • The voting process actually has three phases: pre-scrutiny, in which votes are prepared; ballot, in which votes are collected and counted; and post-scrutiny, in which votes are rechecked and then burned.
  • The conclave can take several days, but usually doesn't last more than two weeks.
  • A cardinal must receive two-thirds of the votes to be elected pope. After each vote, votes are burned. If black smoke comes out of the chapel, there will be another vote. White smoke indicates the election of a new pope.
Become Pope Step 14

Step 4. Fulfill your role

The pope is the spiritual leader of the world's Catholics, who currently number 1.2 billion. The high priest is also the head of the smallest sovereign state on the planet, the Vatican.

  • The pope conducts a weekly blessing for those who visit the Vatican and also holds a general audience each week.
  • The pontiff still conducts all major religious celebrations such as Christmas and Easter.
  • Modern popes travel the world meeting Catholics and world leaders.


  • Learn as many languages ​​as you can. As a pope, you are expected to be able to communicate in Italian and English, but knowing other languages ​​will help you reach out to supporters of your faith around the world.
  • Try to become famous without being too controversial. The other cardinals will be more likely to elect you pope if you are known for your deeds and your charitable demeanor, rather than your tendency to goad people with unpopular statements.

Popular by topic