New Pope: The waiting game begins with the first day of the papal conclave at the Vatican.
The papal conclave met for the first time Tuesday, but did not elect a new pope. The conclave is made up of 115 cardinals from around the world. A majority vote of 77 cardinals is required to elect the next pope.
The unprecedented resignation of Benedict XVI last week was followed by a unanimous vote to begin the conclave as soon as possible.
“Traditionally, there would have been a mourning period,” said Dr. Robert Somerville, scholar of pre-modern, western Christianity at Columbia University. According to Somerville there is normally a waiting period after the pope dies, before a new one can be elected.
In this unusual case the cardinals flocked to Rome to begin the conclave right away.
Somerville said that there may be a desire on the part of the cardinals and the Catholic Church to have a new pope in place by the Easter holiday, a very important holiday for Catholics around the world.
No one expected that a new pope would be chosen on the first day of the conclave. The cardinals will continue to vote up to four times per day until a successor is chosen.
There has been much speculation as to who will be the next pope. Papal betting websites are waging a war of odds, and journalists around the world are weighing in on candidates from their regions.
But there is no time tested way to know who is really in the running. “Discerning the papabili is a combination of old-fashioned reporting and reading the tea leaves,” said Cindy Wooden journalist with Catholic newspaper The Pilot.
Everyone who wants to know who the new pope will be is just going to have to wait for the white smoke that will curl out of the Sistine Chapel chimney when the cardinals make their decision. The conclave will continue on Wednesday.
The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 21 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.