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Papal Conclave Begins on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at Vatican

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 11th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Roman Catholic cardinals will be meeting this Tuesday, March 12 to begin the conclave to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI. The date was decided after five days of closed-door debate.
 

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - All 115 of the cardinals eligible to elect a new pope took part in last week's meeting. All are expected to vote during the conclave until one man receives at least a two-thirds majority, or 77 votes. Cardinals must be less than 80 years of age to vote.
 
The centuries-old tradition which is used to elect a new pope will be held in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel. There are hopes to have a new pope in place by Easter, this March 31.

However, given the record of conclaves in the past 110 years, it is likely that Catholics will have a new pontiff by the end of next week. The longest of those conclaves was in 1903, ending in the selection of Pius X and 1922 Pius XI, which both lasted for five days. Three lasted two days, including the one that elected Benedict XVI in 2005.

Former Pope Benedict resigned last month after nearly eight years in office. He was the first Roman Catholic Church leader to step down voluntarily in 600 years. He has pledged obedience to the next pope and will spend his days in prayer on a monastery on the Vatican grounds.

Video images were presented of the modest accommodations for the conclave: a sitting room with a table and facing chairs, a single bed with a wrought-iron headboard, a small television, which will presumably be removed or deactivated and unadorned white walls. The officials also showed images of a suite destined to house the new pope while his apartment in the Apostolic Palace is prepared.

There were reports of leaks last week, prompting the Vatican to impose a media blackout on all cardinals. The Italian news media speculated that some cardinals initiated the leaks.

There has been some speculation that the aim of the blackout was to silence American cardinals, who have been vocal about allegations of corruption and dysfunction within the Roman Curia, the central administrative body of the Catholic Church.

Among issues discussed by the cardinals last week was last year's "Vatileaks" scandal, in which confidential papal documents on power struggles inside top levels of the church were leaked to Italian journalists.

Also widely discussed was the child sex abuse scandals which have shaken confidence in the church in recent years.

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