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The 115 Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church are set to begin their Papal Conclave today to elect a new Pope for the over one billion Catholics worldwide.
Following the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI, the process to elect a new leader of the Catholic Church is about to begin in Vatican City. The 115 Cardinals began today (3/12) with a final Mass before closing themselves off from the world to discuss, debate and vote on which of them should become the new leader of the church.
The Sistine Chapel had been closed off to the public and prepared for the secret meeting and voting that will begin this afternoon. Once the Cardinals make their way into the chapel, they will remain locked away from the world until the new Pope is elected.
The only indication to the Catholic faithful will come from a pipe high atop of the Sistine Chapel. Following each vote, after the ballots are counted they are burned. Chemicals are added to the fire that will determine the color of the smoke that will emerge from the pipe. If the smoke flows black, a Pope has not been chosen. When white smoke comes from the pipe, it indicates the Catholic Church has a new Pope.
No one knows how long the Conclave will take to elect a new Pope. However, most reports are indicating this could be one of the longest Conclaves in history due to the many issues facing the church at this time.
By: Buck Stevens