Chimney raised on Sistine Chapel as conclave prepares to elect new pope

Members of the fire and rescue service set a chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican March 9, 2013. Credit: Reuters
Members of the fire and rescue service set a chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican March 9, 2013.
Credit: Reuters

Vatican workers hoisted a chimney onto the roof of the Sistine Chapel on Saturday in readiness for the conclave of Roman Catholic cardinals that will elect a successor to Pope Benedict.

The conclave begins on Tuesday, with the sequestered cardinals using the chimney to tell the outside world whether or not they have chosen a new leader – black smoke signifying no decision and white smoke announcing a new pontiff.

The rust-colored pipe was attached above the terracotta tiles of the roof of the frescoed chapel clearly visible from the nearby St. Peter’s Square, where traditionally thousands of believers gather to see how the secret balloting is progressing.

Although no clear favorites have emerged to take the helm of the troubled 1.2-billion-member Church, the conclave is expected to be wrapped up within just a few days.

No conclave has lasted than more than five days in the past century, with many finishing within two or three days. Pope Benedict was elected within barely 24 hours in 2005 after just four rounds of voting.

Benedict triggered the election last month with his shock decision to abdicate because of his increasingly frail health – the first pontiff to step down in six centuries.

He leaves his successor a sea of troubles – including seemingly never-ending sex abuse scandals, rivalry and strife inside the Vatican bureaucracy, a shortage of priests and a rise of secularism in its European strongholds.

Inside the chapel, workmen were carrying out the final preparations to make the room, one of the most famous in the world, ready for the conclave.

Two stoves were installed and attached to a single flue leading up to the roof. One, made of cast iron and used in every conclave since 1939, will be used to burn ballots.

The second stove is an electronic one with a key, a red start button and seven tiny temperature indicator lights. Flares will be electronically ignited inside it to send out either white or black smoke.

Workmen on Saturday were also putting the finishing touches to specially built rows of tables where the cardinals will sit facing each under the gaze of Jesus in Michelangelo’s massive Last Judgment panel on the wall behind the altar.

POSSIBLE PONTIFFS

Nearly 150 red-hatted cardinals held a sixth day of preliminary meetings, known as “general congregations”, on Saturday to discuss the many challenges besieging their Church and to sketch the ideal profile of the next pope.

Some 115 of their number – all those aged under 80 – will enter the Sistine Chapel on Tuesday to start the formal voting process. One ballot will be held on the first day, with four votes a day thereafter until one of their number receives a two-thirds majority, or 77 votes.

The names of several possible front runners have been mentioned by church officials ever since Benedict’s resignation.

Amongst the most mentioned are Italy’s Angelo Scola, Brazil’s Odilo Pedro Scherer and Canada’s Marc Ouellet. U.S. cardinals such as Timothy Dolan or Sean O’Malley have also been cited as “papabile”.

With the vast majority of Catholics now living outside Europe, there is growing pressure for a pontiff from another part of the world.

Many Vatican observers believe a Latin American, Asian or African pope could bring attention to the poverty of the southern hemisphere in the same way the Polish-born John Paul put a spotlight on the East-West divide.

“I think it is important to have someone who comes from a place where the Church is dynamic and lively,” South Africa Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier told La Stampa newspaper in an interview published on Saturday.

“I believe the choice of candidates will be much longer than it was in 2005,” added Napier, who has himself been tipped in some quarters as a possible pontiff.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

US military tried, but failed to rescue journalist…

The U.S. military earlier this year tried to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages held in Syria ,but failed to find the captives.

National

Fate of captured beluga whales in hands of…

A Georgia aquarium went to court on Wednesday seeking federal permission to bring 18 captured beluga whales to the United States from Russia.

Local

After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.

Local

'Suspicious' Hamilton Heights fire caused by power strip:…

An extension cord overload caused the deadly fire in Hamilton Heights late Monday that killed a 15-year-old girl and injured at least 12 others.

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

And then there were six. It was a big night on stage as the Top 6 got to dance with each other, All-star partners and perform a solo routine.

Television

'Doctor Who' personality profile: the 4 Doctors

When the time comes for a new Doctor, there's always some anxiety over the big question: Who will he be? The series owes its longevity…

Television

Billy Crystal to commemorate late actor Robin Williams…

  Comedian Billy Crystal will pay tribute to late actor Robin Williams at television's Primetime Emmy Awards on Aug. 25, the show's organizers said on…

Going Out

Things to do this week in NYC, Aug.…

GAMES Hudson Common Open Aug. 21, 7 p.m. Hudson Common 356 W. 58 St. Free, www.hudsoncommonnyc.com The U.S. Open begins on Monday, but most of…

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

NFL

Jalen Saunders still unsure what caused car accident…

Jets rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since his car accident, but he didn't say a whole lot.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL quarterbacks (QB)

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…