Inside the Conclave

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The Conclave to choose the next Pope, is one of the oldest religious traditions in history. It’s also one of the most mysterious and dramatic. A hundred and fifteen Cardinals, sequester themselves cum clave — meaning under lock and key — inside the Sistine Chapel. While the Cardinals are supposed to rely on divine inspiration and leave politics outside the door — church watchers already have their favorites. Some point to Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, a conservative Vatican insider, while others say the most likely choice will hail from Latin America or Africa where the Church is growing in numbers. Regardless of who is chosen, the issues the new Pope will face — divorce, celibacy, contraception, and homosexuality — will remain. The Papal conclave begins.


John-Peter Pham, former Vatican aide and diplomat, currently a faculty member at James Madison University and author of “Heirs of the Fisherman: Behind the Scenes of Papal Death and Succession”

Sister Maureen Sullivan, Professor of Theology at St. Anselm’s College

Jeff Israely, Rome Bureau Chief for TIME magazine.