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.
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.”
Preparations, both spiritual and practical, neared completion at the Vatican on Monday, where Roman Catholic cardinals will gather to begin the process of selecting the next pope.
The conclave - the secret papal election - begins Tuesday in the Sistine Chapel, which has been closed to the public while Vatican staff readied the ornately decorated vestry for deliberations.
The first public signs of preparations appeared over the weekend as workmen scaled the roof of the chapel on Saturday to install the chimney which will release the black or white smoke that signifies whether a new pope has been elected.
This morning on "Early Start," CNN's Miguel Marquez reports live from Rome on the final preps before the first vote in the papal conclave.