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March 12th, 2013
06:52 AM ET

Buzz, excitement as papal conclave to select new pope begins – John Allen & Father Beck weigh in

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.”

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Filed under: Conclave • Pope • Religion • Vatican