The world is a confusing place, so let Professor GIF explain the most befuddling topics through the magic of animated GIFs.
IN THIS ISSUE: 3 easy facts and 14 hilarious GIFs explaining what it's like to do the job Benedict XVI is leaving.
Fact #1: The Pope is chosen by a voting process that's old-fashioned yet familiar.
Pope Benedict XVI resigned last week in order to spend more time doing something. His retirement kicks off the search for a new Pope, and surprises every observer who never thought he'd part with the papal office's distinguished trappings.
A conclave of Catholic cardinals congregates to choose the Church chief, ideally without too much alliteration. Based on traditions dating back to 1271, around 120 cardinals assemble at the Sistine Chapel to deliberate and vote in privacy. It's so private and old-fashioned that they only announce how the voting process is going with color-coded chimney smoke.
What goes into that voting has all the horse race elements of a democratic election (if the only voters were several dozen Latin experts). Vatican insiders get really into "Toto-Papa", their Italian term for pope betting. They compete to predict who will come out on top among the Church's most powerful, charismatic candidates, or "Papabili".
And here's a hint if you're making bets based on past papal trends: the conclave's picked a European guy every time since the year 731.
And regardless of who replaces Benedict XVI on the Chair of St. Peter, they'll have a busy time ahead of them