The world waits for the next Pope: Papal conclave to start on TUESDAY as cardinals prepare to elect Benedict XVI’s successor
- Cardinals will begin the conclave on Tuesday in the Sistine Chapel
- They will attend a special mass at St Peter’s Basilica in the morning
- Workers were pictured installing stoves for the smoke signal
PUBLISHED: 12:19 EST, 8 March 2013 | UPDATED: 12:32 EST, 8 March 2013
Cardinals will begin their conclave to elect the new leader of the Catholic Church in Rome on Tuesday afternoon.
A Vatican spokesman announced on Friday that cardinals will hold the private meeting in the Sistine Chapel after a morning mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Apart from eating and sleeping, they will not be allowed to leave the meeting until they have chosen who will succeed Pope Benedict XVI, who announced his surprise abdication on February 10.
On Friday morning, the cardinals accepted letters of explanation from two cardinal-electors who are eligible to vote for the next pope but will not attend.
One of the two was Keith O’Brien of Scotland, who cited personal reasons.
All those taking part in the vote have now arrived in Rome, ready for Tuesday.
As the meetings for the conclave were delayed in Rome this week, the ex Pope Benedict XVI, 85, was pictured walking with the aid of a stick through the gardens of his summer residence at Castelgandolfo on the outskirts of Rome where he will be living until his new apartment – a renovated convent in the grounds of the Vatican are read.
The former First Leader of the Catholic Church will live at Castel Gandolfo for several weeks, sleeping in a bed just 75cm wide and without a canopy, unlike the one the much grander one slept in over his eight years as pope.
He will then move to a specially prepared apartment at a convent in the Vatican.
The retired pontiff has reportedly taken with him a number theology books as well as music to listen to.
He was also hoping to play the piano – one of his favourite pastimes – in the evenings.
More than 150 cardinals attended the third day of the preliminary meetings to sketch a profile for the next pope following the shock abdication of Pope Benedict last month.
The preliminary meetings are taking place as the crisis involving sexual abuse of children by priests and inappropriate behaviour among adult clerics continues to haunt the Church and has rarely been out of the headlines.
Under Church law the cardinals have until March 20 to start a conclave to choose a new pope to lead the 1.2 billion-member Church.
While many observers had expected the conclave to begin as early as this Sunday or Monday, there have been increasing indications that the cardinals want more time to ponder who among them might be best to lead a Church beset by crises.
Workmen have begun preparing the in the Sistine Chapel, building a new, suspended floor to protect the centuries-old tiles.
Workmen were pictured installing stoves into the chapel where ballots are burned when a vote is undertaken.
The stoves are hooked up to chimneys on the roof and white smoke billows out of them when a new Pope is chosen.
Other preparations were also being made with the Pope Emeritus’s coat of arms being removed from a floral display in front of the Vatican Governor’s Palace, ready to be replaced with that of the newly elected Pope.
Nonetheless, the Vatican spokesman said it was important that no one felt “pressured” into going into the conclave before they were ready and that more time would be needed for “reflection”.
One cardinal leaving the meeting said there had been no formal discussion on Wednesday of the so-called “Vatileaks” scandal, which led to the arrest of Paolo Gabriele, the pope’s butler, further besmirching the Church’s reputation.
Gabriele was convicted of stealing personal papal documents and leaking them to the media. The documents alleged corruption and infighting over the running of its bank.
A trio of elderly cardinals prepared a report on the scandal for Benedict, who later pardoned Gabriele, and a number of cardinals attending the preliminary meetings said they wanted to be briefed on the report.
Thousands gathered in St Peter’s Square to hear Benedict’s retirement speech last Thursday.
After the end of Benedict’s papacy on Thursday, every department head in the Vatican vacated their job – except for those who are considered crucial for the smooth running of the transition period.
Before leaving, Benedict XVI said goodbye to the monsignors, nuns, Vatican staff and Swiss Guards who make up the papal household.
The 85-year-old’s Italian air force helicopter circled Rome, passing over the Colosseum to give him a last view of the city.
Bells rang out from St Peter’s Basilica and churches all over Rome as he flew overhead.
He also sent a final tweet, saying: ‘Thank you for your love and support.
‘May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives.’
Yesterday the Vatican gave the clearest signal yet that it is preparing to elect a new Pontiff by closing off the Sistine Chapel to the public.
Michelangelo’s frescoed masterpiece will be closed to tourists while preparations are made for the Conclave.
When the time comes it will be Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran’s job as proto-deacon to announce ‘Habemus Papam!’ (‘We have a pope!’) from the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square after the smoke has snaked up from the Sistine Chapel chimney.