Conclave 2013 - Cardinals Gather For Final Talk Before Electing Pope

New church leader could be elected Tuesday in Rome after conclave begins.
Before entering a top-secret conclave and electing a new leader for the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, the 115 Cardinals responsible for the decision are meeting for the last time in the Vatican today.

It's the 10th and final meeting for the papal contenders, said David Perlich, the CBC's Vatican analyst. The meeting will be their last chance to talk as a group because once they enter the Sistine Chapel tomorrow morning, the focus shifts to voting.

During Monday's meeting, a series of so-called interventions will take place. Each Cardinal will be allotted about five minutes to speak before the group on any topic of his choosing.

"There'll be some discussions today about urgent issues facing the church," said Perlich.

The Cardinals are in an interesting position, as all 115 men were appointed to their positions by one of the last two reigning popes: Benedict XVI or John Paul II. This means they share a fairly common mindset, said Perlich, ranging from conservative to slightly less conservative.

Perlich said the differences among the Cardinals will come from what they deem to be priorities for the church. Some will focus on doctrine. Others may choose to discuss how the religion interacts with other world religions.

The mood in Vatican City — among those in the church, watching the church or just visiting — seems to be that the conclave will be a historic moment, which will set the vision for the future of Catholicism.

"This could be one of those moments," said Perlich. "A chance for the church to take a true new direction for some new leadership."

Especially with a church facing significant problems around the world, including increasing accusations of sexual abuse and a financial crisis, Cardinals will be looking for a way forward, he said.

"One of these 115 men, he doesn’t get to go home," he said. "He has to stay here and he has to fix it."

Currently, there is no clear front-runner for the job, said Perlich. Though, about 10 men are considered to be part of the papabili, meaning the leading contenders.

Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet's name has been mentioned as part of this group. The church has never had a Canadian Pope.

Despite of the papabili, it is impossible to predict the future pope, said Perlich.

"Once they go into conclave, it’s anybody’s guess."
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