The 111 Cardinal electors of the Roman Catholic Church entered the Vatican's Sistine Chapel on Friday (25 August) to begin their conclave to choose the late Pope Paul the sixth's successor.
The 111 Cardinal electors of the Roman Catholic Church entered the Vatican's Sistine Chapel on Friday (25 August) to begin their conclave to choose the late Pope Paul the sixth's successor. The first vote will take place on Saturday morning and the Cardinals plan four votes a day until a candidate gains the necessary two-thirds majority.
SYNOPSIS: The cardinals decided on Monday (21 August) to allow television coverage of the procession from the Pauline Chapel at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome to the Sistine Chapel. This was the last appearance of the Cardinals in public before being sealed off from the outside world to elect the new Pope. The Latin mass opened with Psalm 97 which speaks of the action of God who guides the Church and mankind.
French Cardinal Jean Villot presided over the mass. He has been mentioned as one of the candidates who could become the new Pope.
The Cardinals asked for the guidance of God and then began the procession to the Sistine Chapel where the conclave will take place. Pope Paul was elected 15 years ago after only 36 hours of deliberation by 80 cardinals, but a more prolonged election is expected this time since no clear favourite has emerged. Pope Paul deliberately fashioned the present college of cardinals to reflect the whole Roman Catholic World, and the conclave will not be dominated, as in the past, by Italian or other European factions.
For the first time in church history, the procession into the conclave has been transmitted live by television. Once inside, the Cardinals will sleep in modestly equipped cells without windows and will be summoned by bells to cast their votes. The conclave's secrecy is total. Electronics experts have checked the area for bugging devices and all windows have been painted over and doors will be barricaded. The Cardinals have taken vows of absolute secrecy and are barred on threat of excommunication from revealing even the slightest details of their deliberations. The only sign to the outside world of the course of the election will be smoke signals from the Sistine Chapel's chimney, black smoke for deadlocked votes and white smoke to announce that the new Pope has been elected.
The Cardinals prayed in the Chapel and sang a hymn which asked for wisdom and guidance. Once in the conclave the will be cared for by about 80 people who have also taken the secrecy oath. Their food will be cooked by the Nuns of St. Martha.
With the traditional order of "extra omnes"; everyone out, the entrance to the Sistine Chapel was sealed. Now the world will wait for the smoke signals...the black of indecisive votes and the white which will signal a new Pope.