In Rome today, 115 cardinals from every corner of the earth are preparing to take an oath of secrecy to begin the election process for the next leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. The eyes of the world will soon be on the copper chimney above the Sistine Chapel to see when white smoke signals the selection of a new pope. Inside brews the politics of a monumental race. Miguel Marquez explains the vetting process.
“In the politics of becoming pope there's never been a race quite like this,” Marquez says. The church's problems are enormous. The need for a powerful, unifying pope, have never been greater. “The new pope will have to reinvigorate the church and bring its enormous bureaucracy—the Curia—into the modern world.”
Cardinals in the running “are judged on their intellectual, religious and spiritual heft” as well on their ability to socialize with fellow cardinals and “even their ability to communicate in Italian,” Marquez reports.