VATICAN CITY (CBSNewYork) – There was a big announcement from the Vatican on Friday concerning the papal succession. After five days of pre-conclave meetings, the College of Cardinals has decided to begin voting next week.
The 115 voting cardinals could elect a new pope as early as Tuesday, CBS 2’s Randall Pinkston reported.
“I have every confidence that by the end of next week we might see some white smoke,” said Father Thomas Rosica, the Vatican press secretary.
Bells will ring and white smoke will flow from a chimney atop the Sistine Chapel when one cardinal receives at least 77 votes.
The cardinals will continue pre-conclave discussions on Saturday and Monday. They will take Sunday off to celebrate Mass at churches across Rome.
“And then on Tuesday morning we will have an opening Mass which all the faithful are invited to and in the afternoon, the first vote,” CBS News Vatican consultant Monsignor Anthony Figueiredo said.
After the cardinal electors enter the Sistine Chapel they will be called up to place their hand on a Bible and confirm their vow of secrecy. Then they will pray and vote in silence.
“One needs to have the data necessary, the piece of mind necessary to have made up his mind before he enters the conclave,” New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan said in one of his daily reports for the Catholic Channel on SiriusXM. “If not, a conclave will go on forever.”
Dolan, considered a papal contender, said in a blog post Friday that most of the discussions in the closed-door meetings covered preaching and teaching the Catholic faith, tending to Catholic schools and hospitals, protecting families and the unborn, and supporting priests “and getting more of them!”
“Those are the ‘big issues,”’ he wrote. “You may find that hard to believe, since the `word on the street’ is that all we talk about is corruption in the Vatican, sexual abuse, money. Do these topics come up? Yes! Do they dominate? No!”
Domus Santa Marta is where the cardinals will stay during the conclave. It has its own chapel. Security teams have swept all of the rooms for hidden microphones, and installed anti-bugging devices.
The televisions and telephones have been turned off, and there is no Internet service. Some rooms are larger, and nicer than others. All are assigned by lottery.
Figueiredo said during the conclave secret discussions continue inside the Santa Marta dining room.
“They will be mixing together there, and obviously the discussions are going to continue around the table,” Figueiredo said.
One of the questions facing the cardinals is what kind of leader should guide the Church, as it tries to rebuild public trust after child sex abuse controversies.
The conclave to elect the last pope, Benedict XVI, lasted three days.
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