Today marks the second day of the secret papal election known as conclave. The cardinals are voting right now as millions around the world watch the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel for the white smoke signal indicating that a new Holy Father has been chosen.
CNN Senior Vatican Analyst John Allen and CNN Contributor Father Edward Beck are following the latest live in Rome with Chris Cuomo. Allen describes the importance of the vote today now that the cardinals have a better grasp of the candidates. “Today becomes what we Americans would think of as Super Tuesday, because it's the make-or-break day for the front-runners,” he says.
Father Beck describes the two things people have told him they desire in a candidate. “One is they want a reformer. Not only if you think of reforming as sexual abuse and cleaning house, but people have seen there's been mismanagement at the top,” Beck says. “So, they want a reformation of that organization. Secondly, they say we want someone who can communicate to the masses. They long for John Paul II again, who can stand up on a world stage and elicit excitement about the church, about the vision of the church, and someone who can inspire youth once again as well.”
History is in the making in Rome, Italy today. Today marks the second day of the papal election. We may see white smoke emerge from the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel, indicating a new pontiff has been chosen.
Many Americans are making the pilgrimage to Rome to witness the moment live at the Vatican. Miguel Marquez speaks to two American Catholic students on watch for the smoke signal.
Both active in the Catholic church, Nora and Victoria share their feelings about the significance of being present for this conclave.
"It's such an exciting experience and it's part of history, and just to say that I was here for a new election of a new pope is amazing," Nora says.
“It's very important," Victoria says. "The pope is the leader of our church, and he's such a model, so we really need someone who is strong an and who can lead us.”
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.
As the Cardinals wrap up a special mass at the Vatican for the election of a new pope, “Early Start” is joined by Monsignor Richard Hilgartner, the Head of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat on Divine Worship.
Cardinals from every corner of the earth will take an oath of secrecy to begin the election process for the next leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. Then, the eyes of the world will be on the copper chimney above the Sistine Chapel. While a vote is expected to take place today, it’s all but guaranteed that black smoke will billow instead of white, indicating an inconclusive vote. Monsignor Hilgartner explains the significance of the first ballot and how the voting process works.
Msgr. Hilgartner says the first vote helps to officially establish the names of potential candidates. Prior to today, the cardinals “only talked about broad concepts of issues and concerns. They really don't know who they're voting for until that first ballot is cast and they start to read off the ballots, and they see,” Hilgartner says. “Then they really see the consensus, the sense of the group, and really see what the trends are looking like.”
Today, 115 cardinals from around the world will take an oath of secrecy and begin voting for the next spiritual leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. This morning, cardinals are holding a special mass for the election of the Holy Father. It is the final event open to the public featuring those cardinals.
At 10:45aET, they are scheduled to leave their residence at Casa Santa Marta and head to the Pauline Chapel. They will then enter the Sistine Chapel to officially begin the process of conclave as the world awaits their decision.
Chris Cuomo reports live from Rome for CNN's special coverage of the selection of the next pope. Senior CNN Vatican Analyst John Allen and CNN Contributor Father Edward Beck join him with their analysis of today’s proceedings.
Father Beck explains what makes the mass so special. “With all we've been hearing about the politicking of how a pope gets elected, this is the most important part, in that you are coming to the highest form of worship that we have as a Catholic Christian community,” he says.
The Cardinals are expected to take one vote today, though the rules technically do not require them to do so. Allen offers a reason for that expectation.
“The consensus is there is no clear front-runner. The Cardinals don't know where one another stand,” Allen says. “It's the first chance to get a sense of where things actually stand and which candidacy might have legs.”
In just 24 hours, the world could potentially have a new pope. Starting tomorrow, 115 Roman Catholic cardinals will walk from their home away from home—the Santa Marta residence at the Vatican—to the Sistine Chapel for conclave. That walk will be taken twice a day, every day, until they elect a new pope.
Monsignor Rick Hilgartner, head of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat on Divine Worship, talks with John Berman on “Early Start” on the upcoming conclave. He explains the conclave's tradition, the ceremony, the secrecy, the preparations and more. He will be joining “Early Start” all week as we watch conclave unfold.
One day out until the voting begins, Monsignor Hilgartner discusses the process and the feeling in Rome today among the cardinals. "Many would say it's all about politics at this point," Monsignor Hilgartner says, "but I think it's important to remember that they also recognize that this is a very spiritual moment." Once the doors close and conclave begins, he says it’s less about politicking and “more about prayer as they each in silence write their votes.”