VATICAN CITY - Cardinals are being urged to put aside their differences for the good of the Catholic Church and the next pope.
The appeal came from Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, at a Mass this morning, hours before they are to go behind closed doors at the Sistine Chapel to start a conclave and choose a successor to Pope Benedict.
There's some disagreement among the cardinals about the qualities they should look for in a new pope.
Cardinals celebrated a final Mass before they sequester themselves in the Sistine Chapel for the conclave to elect the next pope.
In the afternoon, 115 cardinals will file into the frescoed Sistine Chapel singing the Litany of Saints, a hypnotic Gregorian chant imploring the intercession of saints to help them choose a pope. They will hear a meditation by an elderly Maltese cardinal, take an oath of secrecy, and then in all probability cast their first ballots.
Assuming they vote, the first puffs of smoke should emerge from the chapel chimney by 8 p.m.; black for no pope, white if a pope has been chosen.
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