Skip to main content

Conclave to elect new pope set for Tuesday

By Richard Allen Greene and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 4:11 PM EST, Fri March 8, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Before Friday's meeting, several cardinals took to the Internet to request prayers
  • The secretive election for a new pope will start Tuesday
  • The chimney that sends smoke signals could be raised over the Sistine Chapel on Friday
  • The 115 cardinal-electors will draw lots for the rooms in which they stay during the conclave

Rome (CNN) -- The Catholic cardinals gathered in Rome voted Friday to begin the secret election, or conclave, to elect a new pope next Tuesday afternoon, the Vatican said.

The 115 cardinal-electors taking part in the conclave will enter the closed-door process after a morning Mass, the Vatican said. Only cardinals younger than 80 are eligible to vote.

Selecting a pope: A digital interactive

The cardinals voted Friday morning to accept the letters of explanation of two cardinal-electors who are eligible to vote for the next pope but will not attend the conclave: Keith O'Brien of Scotland and Julius Riyadi Darmaatmadja of Indonesia.

Darmaatmadja cited health reasons, and O'Brien cited personal reasons.

Vatican muzzles U.S. cardinals
Papal conclave to begin March 12
CNN Explains: Papal succession
Swiss Guards nab scarf-wearing bishop

Abuse victims' group names preferred picks for new pope

O'Brien resigned in scandal last week after allegations that he made sexual advances toward young men studying to be priests. He apologized in a statement Sunday, saying, "There have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal."

Since Monday, the cardinals have been uniting for what are known as General Congregations, a series of meetings in which they discuss the issues facing the church.

These include how to tackle the issue of child sex abuse by priests and a scandal over leaks from the Vatican last year that revealed claims of corruption within the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy.

Opinion: How to pick a new pope

'Move our church forward'

Some cardinals took to the Internet to make comments before Friday afternoon's meeting that set the conclave date.

Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, viewed as one of about a dozen leading candidates to become pope, used Twitter to ask for prayers.

"Your continued prayers help us discern God's will. To move our Church forward," wrote Turkson, who if elected would become the first African pontiff since Pope Gelasius I died more than 1,500 years ago.

Another leading candidate, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, told the people of his archdiocese in a blog post Friday that he misses New York and is sorry he won't be there on St. Patrick's Day.

"Heartfelt thanks for your prayers! We need them! We feel them! Keep them up!" Dolan wrote.

Cardinal Roger Mahony, the retired archbishop of Los Angeles, also asked for prayers before Friday evening's meeting.

"I hope we vote this evening to set the starting date for the Conclave; preceded by the Mass to Elect a new Pope. Prayers, please!!" he posted to Twitter.

Electronic shield

The chimney used to send up the smoke signals that announce whether or not a new pope has been elected could be raised over the Sistine Chapel on Friday, said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman.

The voting takes place inside the chapel, beneath the ornate ceiling painted by Michelangelo.

Opinion: What the next pope will face

The building was closed to tourists Tuesday and will remain so for the foreseeable future, the Vatican said. Work is well under way to transform it for the conclave.

The cardinals have sworn an oath of secrecy. Nonetheless, the Vatican is taking no chances.

An electronic shield will be put up around the conclave to prevent the use of mobile phones and other devices that might allow communication with the outside world.

What Africans want from the next pope

However, Lombardi denied a report in the Italian media that the cardinals will be searched as they go in and out of the conclave.

Among the things the cardinals have to do is draw lots for which rooms they get at the Casa Santa Marta, the hotel within the walls of Vatican City where they stay during the conclave.

The hotel also contains a suite where the newly elected pope will live for a few weeks before moving to the papal apartments.

The apartments were placed under seal after Benedict XVI left last week and must be renovated before the new pope can take up residence, the Vatican said.

CNN's Richard Allen Greene reported from Rome and Laura Smith-Spark wrote from London. Hada Messia in Rome and Jason Hanna in Atlanta contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 3:59 PM EST, Thu December 25, 2014
Pope Francis wants to bring hope to Christians and other ethnic and religious groups suffering "brutal persecution" in Iraq and Syria.
updated 8:54 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
The Pope unleashes a blistering critique of the Vatican bureaucracy criticizing its "illnesses" and likening the church to "a sick body."
updated 5:32 PM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
Pope Francis celebrated his birthday with a major geopolitical wish granted: The end of frozen relations between the U.S. and Cuba.
updated 11:59 AM EST, Tue December 2, 2014
Pope Francis said that modern slavery is a "crime against humanity" and is "unfortunately becoming worse and worse every day."
updated 5:31 PM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
Pope Francis is to make his first trip to the United States as the head of the Catholic Church next September.
A Vatican report says the church should welcome and appreciate gays and lesbians.
updated 8:59 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
Using his strongest language to date, Pope Francis told Italian Mafia members that they are excommunicated from the Catholic Church.
updated 12:45 PM EDT, Fri June 20, 2014
Drugs, capitalism, homosexuality -- no topic has been off limits for Pope Francis so far.
updated 5:33 PM EDT, Sat June 14, 2014
Pope Francis reveals he prefers not to use a bulletproof Popemobile because it is a glass "sardine can" that walls him off from people.
updated 12:58 AM EDT, Mon June 9, 2014
Palestinian Authority President Abbas and Israeli President Peres committed themselves to the quest for peace in the Middle East with Pope Francis.
updated 2:46 PM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
As the Holy Land prepares for a papal visit, Ivan Watson speaks to the man preparing to honor the pontiff with his food.
updated 12:31 PM EDT, Thu March 13, 2014
Not a jot of doctrine has changed in the year since Francis became Pope. But there's more than one way to measure his impact.
updated 10:01 AM EST, Sat February 22, 2014
Pope Francis created 19 new cardinals in a ceremony in the Vatican's St. Peter's Basilica -- the first such appointments since he was elected pontiff.
updated 9:36 AM EDT, Thu March 13, 2014
"The spring evening in which Pope Francis was elected is an apt symbol of the beginning of his papacy and the years that will follow," writes a priest.
updated 4:10 PM EDT, Wed March 12, 2014
Take a look at Pope Francis' first year as head of the Roman Catholic Church with our gallery.
updated 6:43 PM EST, Thu November 7, 2013
It was the embrace that melted hearts worldwide.
updated 5:59 AM EDT, Wed April 3, 2013
Pope Francis kisses and hugs disabled boy lifted up in the crowd on Easter Sunday.
updated 2:56 PM EDT, Sat March 16, 2013
Pope Francis is being painted as a humble and simple man, but his past is complicated and tinged with controversy.
ADVERTISEMENT