Cardinals take part in mass before conclave - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Cardinals take part in mass before conclave

(RNN) – Cardinals from around the world, 115 in all, took part in a public mass Tuesday to prepare themselves for what lies ahead – the selection of a new pontiff.

After the mass, the cardinals will begin deliberations and voting in seclusion as part of the papal conclave.

CNN reports preparations for the papal conclave have been under way since Benedict XVI announced he was retiring last month.

Once the voting cardinals are sealed inside the Sistine Chapel, all eyes will be on the Vatican chimney and on the color of smoke issuing from it.

Black smoke signals an unsucessful vote, while white smoke means a pope has been selected.

A first-ballot consensus is unlikely, experts say.

The longest conclave held since the turn of the 20th century lasted five days.

If the cardinals do not elect a pope in the first four days of the conclave, they will take a break on the fifth day.

Pope Benedict XVI became the first pope to retire in 598 years, announcing Feb. 11 he would step down "due to advanced age."

His final day as pope was Feb. 28.

Benedict was on the minds of the cardinals during Tuesday's mass.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano recited a homily which mentioned Pope Benedict XVI, giving thanks to God for his service.

Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network All rights reserved. CNN contributed to this report.

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