NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Moments after Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation took effect, the wheels of the Church began to turn.
The Vatican tweeted: “The See of Rome is vacant.” It was a signal to the cardinals that they must choose a successor.
With Benedict gone, the cardinals will now take part in informal meetings.
“I think many of the cardinals from outside Rome would like it to continue a little longer so that they get to know various people,” Rev. Patrick Ryan of Fordham University told CBS 2’s John Slattery.
They will set a date for a conclave to be locked inside the Sistine Chapel.
“I think the first day they have a mass, then they do a ballot in afternoon. And then basically from then on in, if they don’t have a candidate, they’re doing two votes in the morning and two votes in the afternoon,” said Tim Reidy of America Magazine.
After three days, they’re allowed a day of rest, but noted theologian Father Patrick Ryan doesn’t believe it will come to that.
“It’s unlikely, I think. I would say it will be over in a couple of days,” Ryan said.
More than half the cardinals are European. A quarter are from Italy. Nearly half of those worked in the Roman Curia. All of them were made cardinals by either John Paul or Benedict — both conservative.
“It’s going to be somebody who is in that form of a more conservative cardinal, share some of their concerns of what the issues, the priorities are for the church,” Reidy said.
It’s unlikely the new pope would embrace popular questions like married priests, ordaining women or allowing divorced Catholics to remarry.
“The customs that have prevailed for a long time will not change easily, I think,” Rev. Ryan said.
In the conclave, ballots are burned after they are counted. Black smoke means no pope.
The conclave is over when white smoke is seen from the Sistine Chapel and an announcement is made “Habemus Papam,” meaning we have a pope.
Out of 117 cardinals under the age of 80 and eligible to vote, 115 are expected to do so. An Indonesian cardinal is suffering medical problems and a British cardinal is staying home amid a recent scandal.
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