Cardinals meet ahead of papal conclave
Vatican City, March 12 : Cardinals met Monday for the last time to prepare the conclave at which they will elect the successor of Pope Benedict XVI.
During the day all who will participate in the conclave make a vow to keep secret everything that happens there.
The meeting will be attended by the 115 cardinal electors who will take part in the second conclave of the third millennium.
The papal conclave will begin Tuesday at 4.30 p.m. when the cardinals enter the Sistine Chapel.
The "pro eligendo Romano Pontifice" Mass will be held that morning in St. Peter's Basilica, which others of the faithful may attend, and then in the afternoon the 115 cardinal electors will lock themselves in the Sistine Chapel to begin the assembly and the voting.
The next pope will need a two-thirds majority of the cardinals present. Since there are 115, he will need a minimum of 77 votes.
The College of Cardinals, called the "most exclusive club in the world", is composed of 207 cardinals from 66 countries, 51 of which have cardinal electors.
Of these cardinals, two were appointed by Paul VI, 117 by John Paul II, and 90 by Benedict XVI, who stepped down Feb 28.