Conclave Begins: One Cardinal Arrived On A Bike

One hundred and 15 (115) Catholic cardinals arrived at Vatican City this morning to begin conclave. One of them, French Cardinal Phillippe Barbarin, has been getting in and out of The Vatican on a bike all week (video below).

The media surrounded Cardinal Barbarin as he peddled through the gates. Barbarin is 62-years-old. He was born in Morocco and studied for the priesthood in Paris, according to Wikipedia. Pope John Paul promoted Barbarin from Archbishop to cardinal by Pope John Paul in 2003.

Any Catholic man in good standing with the church is qualified to be elected Pope, but it’s unlikely the College of Cardinals would select anyone but a cardinal to lead the church. A non-cardinal hasn’t been picked since 1379. The bike riding cardinal could be the next elected pontiff, but he isn’t one of the 12 priests insiders think are most likely to replace Pope Benedict:

“Among those who have cropped up in media reports as possible contenders are Italy’s Cardinal Angelo Scola; Brazil’s Odilo Scherer; Marc Ouellet of Quebec, Canada; and U.S. cardinals Sean O’Malley of Boston and Timothy Dolan of New York.”

Before being sealed in the Sistine Chapel in forced seclusion, the cardinals celebrated Mass at Saint Peter’s Basilica.

Cardinals, nuns, priests, and parishioners prayed together for guidance in making the right choice in picking the next pope. Dean of the College of Cardinals Angel Sodano offered a homily in the packed Basilica encouraging Catholics to pray for a pontiff “who will embrace this noble mission with a generous heart.”

Cardinal Sodano will not participate in the conclave. He is over the age of 80, and, once a cardinal passes 80, he is not allowed to be a part of the internal process.

Cardinals are expected to vote for the first time, but no one knows for sure if that will happen. If it does, smoke will rise from the chimney on the Sistine Chapel around 3 pm EDT.

Photo and Video Credit: Roderick Vonhögen