The papal election began today with the much-ballyhooed conclave of Cardinals in Vatican city, and anxious Catholics worldwide await announcement of the new Pope.
At a Mass ahead of the historic papal election (prompted by the first papal resignation in several centuries), dean of the College of Cardinals Cardinal Angelo Sodano spoke of the “luminous pontificate” of the “beloved and venerated Pontiff Benedict XVI” and said in a homily:
“St. Paul teaches that each of us must work to build up the unity of the church. All of us are therefore called to cooperate with the pastors, in particular with the successor of Peter, to obtain that unity of the holy church.”
Sodano has served under both John Paul II and Benedict XVI as secretary of state, and spoke at length in his homily about the two previous popes as the papal election loomed.
At 4:30 Tuesday, the 115 Cardinals who traveled to Vatican City for the papal election prepare to begin the process of selecting a new pope to lead the Catholic Church following the mixed eight-year reign of Pope Benedict — wracked with concerns including an ever-widening, global sex abuse scandal and financial troubles.
In the prior papal election, then-Cardinal Ratzinger was a clear favorite for pope — but as of today, one of the factors that marks the papal election is that no single likely candidate has emerged.
At the end of day one of the papal election, there is generally no expectation this time around that the signal of a chosen successor (white smoke emerging from a specially installed chimney as well as a ringing of the bells to signal a concluded conclave) will be seen.
However, by the end of the week, most church-watchers suspect the period of sede vacante will be set to end.
As the papal election gets underway, do you think there is a probably successor to Pope Benedict XVI?