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March 12th, 2013
08:19 AM ET

Conclave: The vetting process in electing the new Holy Father – Miguel Marquez reports

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.

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Filed under: Conclave • Pope • Religion
March 12th, 2013
07:42 AM ET

Why the first vote in the papal conclave is so important – Msgr. Richard Hilgartner explains

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.”

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Filed under: Conclave • Papacy • Pope • Religion
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
March 11th, 2013
06:30 AM ET

Monsignor Rick Hilgartner: Many would say papal conclave is about politics, but also a very spiritual moment

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.”

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Filed under: Conclave • Pope • Vatican
March 11th, 2013
05:32 AM ET

Preparations for papal conclave underway in Rome – Miguel Marquez reports

FROM CNN WIRES:

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.

READ MORE: Cardinals huddle one last day before conclave to elect new pope begins

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Filed under: Papal conclave • Religion • Vatican