Conclave to elect new pope to start March 12: Vatican
VATICAN CITY (REUTERS) - Roman Catholic cardinals will enter a conclave to elect a successor to Pope Benedict on March 12, the Vatican said on Friday, with no clear favourite emerging so far to take charge of the troubled Church.
Mr Benedict's surprise abdication last month has brought most of the world's cardinals to the Vatican for discussions on the problems facing the 1.2 billion-member Church, and to decide on the profile of the man they want to lead them.
After five days of closed-door debate, the red-capped prelates decided on Friday to begin their secret votes in the frescoed Sistine Chapel on the afternoon of next Tuesday following a Mass in St Peter's Basilica in the morning.
A total of 115 elector-cardinals, all aged under 80, are set to take part in a series of ballots which continue until one man receives a two-thirds majority, or 77 votes.