Conclave for new Pope begins today
Catholic Cardinals will commence the process of electing a new Poe today when they go into seclusion in the conclave with no frontrunner in view.
No fewer than 115 cardinal-electors from 48 countries will file into the Michelangelo-frescoed Sistine Chapel at 4.30pm today and will hold an initial vote shortly afterward.
There are indications that the conclave will be short as the 266th Pope is expected to emerge on Thursday. Vatican watchers say Italy’s Angelo Scola and Brazil’s Odilo Scherer are in pole position. But a host of other candidates from around the world have also been mentioned, leaving the secretive contest wide open.
Stunned by the abdication last month of Pope Benedict, the red-hatted cardinals have met repeatedly this past week, sketching out the qualities of the person needed to face the huge challenge of leading the scandal-plagued church.
No one in the modern era has won the necessary two-thirds majority on the first ballot, and the cardinal-electors will hold up to four ballots a day thereafter: two in the morning and two in the afternoon until they elect a new pontiff.
The average length of the last nine conclaves was roughly three days and none went on for more than five days.
Father Rosica said: “There is a dynamic that takes over once they’re in the Sistine Chapel. The first vote kind of lays out the names. We will have a pope by the end of the week.”
In preparation for the election, workers hung up crimson curtains on the central balcony of St Peter’s Basilica, ready for the moment when the new pope makes his first appearance before crowds gathered in the vast cobbled piazza below.