Cardinals try to find consensus on new pope
Benedict XVI's insignia are destroyed as the Sistine Chapel is modified for the conclave
Sunday 10 March 2013
Firefighters installed a special top on the Sistine Chapel chimney yesterday, ready for the signal to the world that a new pope has been elected, as the Vatican took measures to end Benedict XVI's pontificate.
While construction workers prepared the interior of the frescoed Sistine Chapel for Tuesday's start of the conclave, officials elsewhere in the Apostolic Palace destroyed Benedict's fisherman's ring and the personal seals and stamps for official papers. The act, coupled with Benedict's public resignation and pledge of obedience to the future pope, is designed to signal a definitive end of his papacy so there is no doubt in the church that a new pope is in charge.
The developments all point toward the momentous decision to confront the Catholic church: Tuesday's start of the conclave to elect a new pope to lead the world's 1.2 billion Catholics and try to solve the problems facing the church.
The Vatican outlined the timeline for the balloting, and confirmed that the bells of St Peter's Basilica will ring once a pope has been elected. But Vatican officials also acknowledged that there is some uncertainty about the whole endeavour, given the difficulties in discerning the colour of smoke that will snake out of the Sistine chimney – black if no pope has been elected, white when a victor has emerged. A Vatican spokesman, the Rev Federico Lombardi, laughed off concerns, saying that some "suspense" was all part of the beauty of the process.
Despite talk of likely successors, there appears to be no front-runner, and a week of deliberations has exposed sharp divisions among cardinals about some of the pressing problems facing the church, including governance of the Holy See.
Fr Lombardi said the pre-conclave meetings had given the cardinals a chance to discuss the "profile, characteristics, qualities and talents" a future pope must have. Those closed-door deliberations, he said, provided an opportunity for discussion and information gathering so that the cardinals could go into the conclave ready to cast their ballots. Then it's a matter of consensus-building to reach the two-thirds majority needed to elect a pope – a process that in the past century has never taken more than a five days.
Benedict himself was elected on the fourth round of voting in 2005, a day after the conclave began – one of the fastest papal elections in recent times. His predecessor, John Paul II, was chosen following eight ballots over three days in 1978.
On Tuesday, the conclave will begin with a morning Mass in St Peter's, followed by a procession into the Sistine Chapel and the first round of secret balloting in the afternoon. If black smoke issues from the chapel chimney to indicate that there is no victor, the cardinals will retire for the day. They will return on Wednesday for two rounds of balloting in the morning and two rounds in the afternoon, a process repeated each day until a pope emerges.
Yesterday, for the sixth day running, cardinals met behind closed doors to discuss the problems of the church. Meanwhile, distinctly modern adaptations were being made to the Sistine Chapel. Begun in 1473 by Baccio Pontelli for Pope Sixtus IV, the chapel has frescoes by Michaelangelo, Botticelli and Ghirlandaio. Workers were staple-gunning felt carpeting to a wooden floor that has been laid over the chapel's precious marble designs, and signal-jamming devices were being tested. The equipment has been installed to prevent any mobile phone or eavesdropping devices from working.
However, to communicate the decisions of the 115 cardinals, the Sistine relies on simple technology: a 100-year-old cast iron stove burns their ballot papers beneath a humble chimney.
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Putin opponent reveals Russian President's daughter's secret identity
Ball pool for adults opens in London
Gay couple buy JebBushForPresident.com web domain, and refuse to sell
16 Waitrose customers who could not cope with the end of free coffee
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...
£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...