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Argentina’s Jorge Bergoglio Becomes Pope Francis

pope-francisWhen Jorge Bergoglio stepped onto the balcony at the Vatican on Wednesday to reveal himself as the new leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, he made history as the first non-European pope of the modern era, the first from Latin America, the first Jesuit and the first to assume the name Francis.

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ROME (CNN) — Black smoke billowed from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel Tuesday night, indicating that cardinals gathered at the Vatican to elect a new pope had not chosen one in the first ballot of their conclave.

The start of the secret election got underway earlier in the day, as the heavy wooden doors to the chapel swung closed on the 115 Roman Catholic cardinals charged with selecting the next pontiff.

The next round of voting will begin Wednesday morning. Results will be revealed by puffs of smoke from the chimney following each ballot.

Black smoke, no pope. White smoke, success.

On a day rich with symbolism, the scarlet-clad cardinals entered the Sistine Chapel in solemn procession, chanting prayers and watched over by the paintings of Renaissance artist Michelangelo.

Led by the conclave’s senior cardinal, Giovanni Battista Re, each of the cardinal-electors — those under age 80 who are eligible to vote — then swore an oath of secrecy.

A designated official then gave the order, in Latin, to those not authorized to remain, “Extra omnes” — that is, “Everyone out.”

With all those not taking part in the conclave gone, the cardinals will remain locked in isolation until one candidate garners two-thirds of their votes.

That man will emerge from the process as the new spiritual leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.

Huddled under umbrellas as rain came down, crowds of onlookers watched on big screens set up in St. Peter’s Square until the doors to the Sistine Chapel were shut.

‘Noble mission’

Earlier, the cardinals celebrated a morning Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, where they prayed for guidance in making a choice that could be crucial to the direction of a church rocked by scandal in recent years.

Applause echoed around St. Peter’s as Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, offered thanks for the “brilliant pontificate” of Benedict XVI, whose unexpected resignation precipitated the selection of a new pope.

Sodano’s homily focused on a message of love and unity, calling on all to cooperate with the new pontiff in the service of the church.

“My brothers, let us pray that the Lord will grant us a pontiff who will embrace this noble mission with a generous heart,” he concluded.

Members of the public had waited in long lines Tuesday morning to join the Mass. As the service began, the morning sunshine came to an abrupt end, with the skies letting loose thunder, lightning and a torrential downpour.

Before the service, the cardinal-electors had moved into Casa Santa Marta, their residence at the Vatican for the duration of the conclave.

Jamming devices have been put in place to stop them from communicating with the outside world via mobile phones or other electronic means as they make their decision.

Rome is abuzz

Rome was abuzz Monday with preparations for the conclave, from the 5,600 journalists the Vatican said had been accredited to cover the event to the red curtains unfurled from the central balcony at St. Peter’s, the spot where the world will meet the new pope once he is elected.

Tailors have completed sets of clothes for the new pope to wear as soon as he is elected, in three sizes.

Video released by the Vatican over the weekend showed the installation of a pair of stoves inside the chapel. One is used to burn the cardinals’ ballots after they are cast and the other to send up the smoke signal — the one that alerts the world that a vote has been taken and whether there’s a new pope.

Workers scaled the roof of the chapel Saturday to install the chimneys.

When cardinals elected Benedict in 2005, the white smoke signaling the decision came about six hours after an earlier, inconclusive vote, Lombardi said.

It took another 50 minutes for Benedict to dress, pray and finally appear on the balcony of St. Peter’s, he said.

The longest conclave held since the turn of the 20th century lasted five days.

On Monday, cardinals held the last of several days of meetings, known as General Congregations, to discuss church affairs and get acquainted. Lombardi said 152 cardinals were on hand for the final meeting.

As well as getting to know their counterparts from around the world, the cardinals discussed the major issues facing the church, including its handling of allegations of child sex abuse by priests and a scandal over leaks from the Vatican last year that revealed claims of corruption, as well as the church’s future direction.

Church rules prevent cardinals over the age of 80 from participating in the conclave but allow them to attend the meetings that precede the vote.

Who will be chosen?

Meanwhile, the Italian news media are full of speculation about which cardinal may win enough support from his counterparts to be elected, and what regional alliances are being formed.

According to CNN Vatican analyst John Allen, also a correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, the race was wide open as the cardinals entered the conclave.

Unlike in 2005, when Benedict XVI was believed to be the favorite going into the election, no one has emerged as a clear frontrunner this time around, Allen said.

Some names have cropped up in media reports as possible contenders, however. They include Italy’s Cardinal Angelo Scola; Brazil’s Odilo Scherer; Marc Ouellet of Quebec, Canada; U.S. cardinals Sean O’Malley of Boston and Timothy Dolan of New York; and Ghana’s Peter Turkson.

More than 80% of Africans believe their continent is ready for an African pope, but only 61% believe the world is, an exclusive survey for CNN has found.

A mobile phone survey of 20,000 Africans from 11 nations, conducted by CNN in conjunction with crowd sourcing company Jana, found that 86% thought an African pope would increase support for Catholicism in Africa.

Italy potentially wields the most power within the conclave, with 28 of the 115 votes, making it the largest bloc in the College of Cardinals. The United States is second with 11. Altogether, 48 countries are represented among the cardinal-electors.

“Many would say it’s all about politics at this point,” Monsignor Rick Hilgartner, head of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat on Divine Worship, told CNN, “but I think it’s important to remember that they also recognize that this is a very spiritual moment.”

Once the doors close and the conclave begins, he says, it’s less about politicking and “more about prayer as they each in silence write their votes.”

Sixty-seven of the cardinal-electors were appointed by Benedict, who stepped down at the end of last month, becoming the first pontiff to do so in six centuries.

Today the task of electing the next head of the Catholic church begins in earnest as more than 100 cardinals gather for the papal conclave.

So who are some of the top contenders to become the next pope? Lynette Romero is live in Rome with a look at the rumored frontrunners.

Rome (CNN) — The heavy wooden doors to the Sistine Chapel swung closed Tuesday, signaling the start of the secret election, or conclave, in which 115 Roman Catholic cardinals will pick the next pope.

Now all eyes will turn to the chimney installed on the roof of the historic chapel.

From this point on, the only clue the world will have of what is happening inside will be periodic puffs of smoke that follow each round of voting.

Black smoke, no pope. White smoke, success.

On a day rich with symbolism, the scarlet-clad cardinals entered the Sistine Chapel in solemn procession, chanting prayers and watched over by the magnificent paintings of Renaissance artist Michelangelo.

Each of the cardinal-electors — those under age 80 who are eligible to vote — then swore an oath of secrecy, led by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the most senior cardinal in the conclave.

A designated official then gave the order in Latin, “Extra omnes” — that is, “Those who are extra, leave.”

With all those not taking part in the conclave gone, the cardinals will remain locked in total isolation until one candidate can garner two-thirds of their votes.

That man will emerge from the process as the new spiritual leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.

The cardinals will probably vote Tuesday, but they don’t have to, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said Monday.

If they do, it’s likely the first smoke might be seen around 8 p.m. (3 p.m. ET), he said.

Earlier, the cardinals celebrated a special morning Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, where they prayed for guidance in making a choice that could be crucial to the future direction of a church rocked by scandal in recent years.o

Members of the public waited in long lines Tuesday morning to join the Mass, which was open to all.

As the service began, the morning’s brilliant sunshine came to an abrupt end, with the skies letting loose thunder, lightning and a torrential downpour.

Applause echoed around St. Peter’s as Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, offered thanks for the “brilliant pontificate” of Benedict XVI, whose unexpected resignation precipitated the selection of a new pope.

Sodano’s homily focused on a message of love and unity, calling on all to cooperate with the new pontiff in the service of the church.

“My brothers, let us pray that the Lord will grant us a pontiff who will embrace this noble mission with a generous heart,” he concluded.

Rome is abuzz

Rome was abuzz Monday with preparations for the conclave, from the 5,600 journalists the Vatican said had been accredited to cover the event to the red curtains unfurled from the central balcony at St. Peter’s, the spot where the world will meet the new pope once he is elected.

Tailors have also completed sets of clothes for the new pope to wear as soon as he is elected, in three different sizes.

Video released by the Vatican over the weekend showed the installation of a pair of stoves inside the chapel.

One is used to burn the cardinals’ ballots after they are cast and the other to send up the smoke signal — the one that alerts the world that a vote has been taken and whether there’s a new pope.

Workers scaled the roof of the chapel Saturday to install the chimneys.

The cardinals moved Tuesday morning into Santa Marta, their residence at the Vatican for the duration of the conclave.

Jamming devices have been put in place to stop the cardinal-electors from communicating with the outside world using mobile phones or other electronic means.

When cardinals elected Benedict in 2005, the white smoke signaling the decision came about six hours after an earlier, inconclusive vote, Lombardi said.

It took another 50 minutes for Benedict to dress, pray and finally appear on the balcony of St. Peter’s, he said.

The longest conclave held since the turn of the 20th century lasted five days.

On Monday, cardinals held the last of several days of meetings, known as General Congregations, to discuss church affairs and get acquainted. Lombardi said 152 cardinals were on hand for the final meeting.

Church rules prevent cardinals over the age of 80 from participating in the conclave but allow them to attend the meetings that precede the vote.

Who will be chosen?

Meanwhile, the Italian press is full of speculation about which cardinal may win enough support from his counterparts to be elected, and what regional alliances are being formed.

According to CNN Vatican analyst John Allen, also a correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, the race is wide open as the cardinals enter the conclave.

Unlike in 2005, when Benedict XVI was believed to be the favorite going into the secret election, no one has emerged as a clear frontrunner this time around, he said.

Some names have cropped up in media reports as possible contenders, however.

They include Italy’s Cardinal Angelo Scola; Brazil’s Odilo Scherer; Marc Ouellet of Quebec, Canada; U.S. cardinals Sean O’Malley of Boston and Timothy Dolan of New York; and Ghana’s Peter Turkson.

More than 80% of Africans believe their continent is ready for an African pope, but only 61% believe the world is, an exclusive survey for CNN has found.

A mobile phone survey of 20,000 Africans from 11 nations, conducted by CNN in conjunction with crowd sourcing company Jana, also found that 86% thought an African pope would increase support for Catholicism in Africa.

Italy potentially wields the most power within the conclave, with 28 of the 115 votes, making it the largest bloc in the College of Cardinals.

The United States is second with 11. Altogether, 48 countries are represented among the cardinal-electors.

“Many would say it’s all about politics at this point,” Monsignor Rick Hilgartner, head of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat on Divine Worship, told CNN, “but I think it’s important to remember that they also recognize that this is a very spiritual moment.”

Once the doors close and the conclave begins, he says, it’s less about politicking and “more about prayer as they each in silence write their votes.”

Sixty-seven of the cardinal-electors were appointed by Benedict, who stepped down at the end of last month, becoming the first pontiff to do so in six centuries.

ROME (KTLA) — Cardinals in Rome will hold a final pre-conclave meeting on Monday to discuss the state of the church before heading behind closed doors on Tuesday.

As the final preparations were being made, Cardinal Roger Mahoney celebrated Mass on Sunday at the Santi Quattro Coronati, a basilica rich with ancient Roman history dating back to the 4th century.

mahony-romeIt’s hallowed ground, with saints and martyrs buried there.

The basilica is Mahony’s church in Rome, far from the scandal and criticism he faces back in Los Angeles.

Though the church is more than 6,000 miles away from Los Angeles, every day, the nuns pray for a city and a people they’ve never met.

“It’s a great thing to know that these wonderful Augustinian sisters who live here pray for all of us in Los Angeles,” Mahony said on Sunday.

Cardinal Mahony is in Rome for the conclave, despite some protests because of his connection to the priest sex abuse scandal.

But Mahony says he was summoned to the Vatican by a higher power, and he’s blogging about how he’s already met the next Pope.

He says: “Almost every day, I greet our new pope, maybe have a cappuccino with him.”

“Trouble is, I don’t know which one of these Cardinals will be elected in the coming week. But it is one of them.”

Time is running out for the cardinals to take coffee breaks and mingle and size one another up for the job of pope.

On Tuesday, they go into the conclave to privately cast their ballots and make history, and the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics will be waiting and watching for that puff of white smoke.

-Lynette Romero, KTLA News

Rome (CNN) — The conclave to elect a new pope will begin on Tuesday, March 12, the Vatican press office said Friday.

cardinals-picThere will be 115 cardinal-electors taking part in the conclave, the Vatican confirmed. Only those younger than 80 are eligible to vote.

The cardinals voted Friday morning to accept the letters of explanation of two cardinal-electors who are eligible to vote for the next pope but will not attend the conclave: Keith O’Brien of Scotland and Julius Riyadi Darmaatmadja of Indonesia.

Darmaatmadja cited health reasons, and O’Brien cited personal reasons.

O’Brien resigned in scandal last week after allegations that he made sexual advances toward young men studying to be priests.

He apologized in a statement Sunday, saying, “There have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal.”

Since Monday, the cardinals have been uniting for what are known as General Congregations, a series of meetings in which they discuss the issues facing the church.

There is no rule about how long has to elapse before a conclave begins, Lombardi said.

In 2005, it was three days after the end of the General Congregations, he said, but that’s not necessarily a guide for this year.

Among the things the cardinals have to do is draw lots for which rooms they get at the Casa Santa Marta, the residence within the walls of Vatican City where they stay during the conclave.

The voting occurs in the Sistine chapel, beneath the famed ceiling painted by Michelangelo.

vatican692VATICAN CITY — The last cardinal who will participate in the conclave to elect the next pope arrived at the Vatican on Thursday, meaning a date can now be set for the election.

Meantime, the  Vatican continues to struggle Thursday to stem the tide of leaks to Italian media, allegedly by cardinals gathered for private meetings ahead of their eagerly anticipated conclave to elect a new pope.

About 150 cardinals have been meeting daily this week at the Vatican to discuss the future of the Roman Catholic Church and to form opinions about possible candidates to succeed Pope Benedict XVI, who retired last week.

Despite the prelates’ sworn oath to keep details of the proceedings secret, Italian newspapers have provided daily leaked accounts of which cardinals have spoken and of the reluctance on the part of some to agree on a date for the conclave until they are told more about alleged infighting and mismanagement at the Vatican.

Despite the ban, on Thursday there was no sign of the leaks are drying up.

L.A. Cardinal Roger Mahony addressed the public from his Twitter account.

“Days of General Congregations reaching a conclusion. Setting of date for Conclave nearing. Mood of excitement prevails among Cardinals,” wrote Mahony, who was stripped of his public duties in January over his handling of sex abuse claims in Los Angeles. He still retains a vote in the conclave.

The Italian newspaper, La Stampa, alleged that a senior European cardinal had asked to know the names of two lay people reportedly named in a secret report commissioned by Benedict on corruption inside the Vatican. The request was turned down, the report said.

Asked on Thursday if the cardinals might consider further measures to stop the leaks, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said, “We count on the responsibility and morality of people.”

Asked if Italian cardinals were fueling the leaks, Lombardi said, “I don’t accept that.”

Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the U.S. cardinals, drew a contrast between the media culture of Italy and the U.S.

“Our culture is to call a press conference and tell everyone,” she said. Italy, she added, “is a land of leaks.”

Also Thursday, Italian daily La Repubblica published an interview with an unnamed whistle-blower at the Vatican who claimed he had cooperated with Benedict’s butler, who was caught leaking embarrassing papal correspondence in 2012. The man said he was one of 20 such whistle-blowers at large within the Vatican and promised another leak of information about wrongdoing at the Holy See.

After a week in which cardinals have discussed reform of the Vatican’s bureaucracy, cardinals were briefed Thursday about Vatican finances and given an early look at financial reports ahead of their official release in July.

ROME, Italy (KTLA) — The last cardinal summoned to choose the next pope is expected to arrive at the Vatican on Thursday, but the date for the conclave to begin is still uncertain.

We may not know how much time is left, but the countdown to the conclave has begun, and crews are transforming the Sistine Chapel for the event.

That’s intricate and serious work, especially when it comes to protecting history.

Crews are building a suspended floor to protect the tiles of the Sistine Chapel, which are hundreds of years old.

We’ve also heard that somewhere in or around the area of the conclave, they’ve placed the technology necessary to scramble any text messages, phone calls or emails.

The cardinals have been sworn to secrecy, of course, but many of them are also big on Twitter and other forms of social media.

At every turn, there is prayer and meditation for this group of revered men to find a way to come together amid crisis, controversy and what some say is a divided church to pick the next pope.

Los Angeles’ retired archbishop Cardinal Roger Mahony is making headlines in Rome.

He is generating controversy for being part of the conclave despite intense criticism over his handling of the priest sex abuse scandal.

Cardinal Mahony says he was summoned by a higher power, along with every other cardinal under the age of 80, to do their ultimate job.

Once the final cardinal does arrive at the Vatican, the conclave will not start immediately.

The cardinals will have some time to get together and talk about the issues affecting the church, and only then will they set a date to start the process of selecting a new leader.

-Lynette Romero, KTLA News

VATICAN CITY — Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles staunchly defended his record on dealing with sexual abuse in the church in an interview published by an Italian newspaper Tuesday.

Mahony, who has been criticized for moving predator priests from posting to posting, told Corriere della Sera that “after 20 years, people are talking about abuse as if we had not done anything. However, since 2002, we have had our program Protecting the Children, in which we illustrate procedures and the guidelines of our zero-tolerance policy that allows no possibility, for example, of anyone found guilty of abuse of minors working for the diocese.”

Mahony, who in recent months has refused requests for interviews with the Los Angeles Times, was publicly rebuked in February by current Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez in connection with his handling of sexual abuse cases.

The cardinal, who is in Rome ahead of the conclave to elect the successor to former Pope Benedict XVI, described to the Italian paper his approach to abuse in earlier years, saying: “I had not understood the real nature of the problem, that people who commit abuse — not only in the church — continue to commit their crimes. These things were not so well understood then as they are now.

“Anyone who looks at the psychiatric and psychological literature then will see that I applied the professional approach suggested for all institutions. We tried to follow the best practices of the period.”

Mahony said he subsequently set about building a network of safeguards against abuse, including the hiring in 1994 of a retired judge to head a Sexual Abuse Advisory Board for the Los Angeles archdiocese.

“My rather painful mistake was to not apply the work of that committee to previous cases. I was more focused on new cases. However, that was an error I completely rectified in 2002,” Mahony said.

Mahony said that after a meeting of bishops in Dallas that year, he hired ex-FBI agents to investigate abuse accusations, and instituted background checks on applicants to work with children in church institutions. Fingerprinting had been undertaken for a decade, he added.

He said he would be seeking to share his experience of tackling abuse with fellow cardinals attending the conclave.

Los Angeles Times

Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles staunchly defended his record on dealing with sexual abuse in the church in an interview published by an Italian newspaper Tuesday. Chip Yost is in Vatican City with more.

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