After five days of meetings, the College of Cardinals has voted to hold a conclave to elect the next Pope on Tuesday, March 12.
“The eighth General Congregation of the College of Cardinals has decided that the Conclave will begin on Tuesday, 12 March 2013,” Father Federico Lombardi said in a March 8 message to reporters.
The cardinals will celebrate a Mass For the Election of a New Pope in St. Peter’s Basilica in the morning and “in the afternoon the cardinals will enter into the Conclave,” he confirmed.
Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam arrived in Rome on Thursday afternoon and with his presence the College of Cardinals reached its full number.
The cardinals were able to choose an earlier date than was previously allowed under Church regulations because Benedict XVI issued a declaration to make that possible.
In the 2005 conclave that elected Benedict XVI as Pope, there were 115 cardinals voting and that number is the same for this time around.
The cardinals will need to reach a two-thirds majority to choose a new Pope, which means 77 votes will be necessary for one candidate before white smoke will be seen coming out of the Sistine Chapel chimney.
After entering the Sistine Chapel for the conclave on Tuesday, the cardinals will listen to a meditation on the challenges facing the Church. Cardinal Prospero Grech, a member of the Augustinian order, will give the meditation concerning their grave duty and the need to act for the good of the universal Church. From Malta, Cardinal Grech is 87 and thus not a cardinal-elector. He will leave the Sistine Chapel shortly before voting begins.