VATICAN CITY (CBSNewYork) — Roman Catholic cardinals have voted to begin their conclave next Tuesday, leaving the weekend and Monday to chit-chat, schmooze, think and pray about the papal election.
Meanwhile, preparations are underway at the Sistine Chapel.
“Within the Conclave on the first day there’s a mass of the Holy Spirit which is to invoke the power of the Holy Spirit and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit on the Conclave. After that one vote is taken, that’s it for the day,” said Fordham University theology professor Maureen Tilley told WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb.
Meanwhile, workers have been putting the nuts and bolts into the seats and altar in the Sistine Chapel.
Workers have installed a raised floor already to even the surface for the cardinals who will approach the altar with their ballots. Behind that altar is Michelangelo’s famous “Last Judgment,” and above that, of course, is the great and famous vaulted ceiling.
Workers also have installed two gray stoves with a copper stove pipe leading to a stained glass window and up onto the roof. The stoves will bear the smoke signals that will tell the world when there is a new pope, Lamb reported.
Monsignor Kevin Irwin of Catholic University described the nuts and bolts of the voting process to 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa.
“They walk up in a procession, so it’s not one of the time doing the whole room – reverently, quietly,” he said.
It is a solemn event, so there is no schmoozing after the vote, Irwin said.
“They don’t drop their ballot and go to the back of the room and get a coffee, no,” he said.
Bells will ring and white smoke will flow from a chimney atop the Sistine Chapel when one cardinal receives at least 77 votes.
Pre-conclave discussions were in progress Saturday, and will also be held on Monday. The cardinals 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 peace 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!”
The conclave to elect the last pope, Benedict XVI, lasted three days.
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