Cardinals begin election of new Pope for Catholic Church

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The Catholic Cardinals start a process of electing a pope after Pope Benedict’s unexpected retirement.

Roman Catholic Cardinals began a conclave on Tuesday to elect the Church’s 266th pontiff and a successor to Pope Benedict, who abdicated unexpectedly last month.

The 115 cardinal electors under the age of 80 prayed for divine help hours before entering the frescoed Sistine Chapel on Tuesday afternoon. They will hold one vote that evening and vote up to four times daily thereafter until a cardinal receives a two-thirds majority, or 77 votes.

No conclave has lasted than more than five days in the past century. Pope Benedict was elected in 2005 after just four rounds of voting. But this time, no clear favourites have emerged to take the helm of the troubled Church.

The cardinals are banned from communicating with the outside world during the election process and the Vatican has taken high-tech measures to ensure secrecy. One of the measures include electronic jamming devices to prevent eavesdropping, Reuters reports.

Some of the front runners for the Pope are Italy’s Angelo Scola, and Brazil’s Odilo Scherer. Should the chance of a first African Pope be bright, Ghana’s Cardinal of Cape Coast, Cardinal Peter Appaih Turkson, 65, is believed to have the brightest chance ahead of Nigeria’s Francis Arinze, 80, who cannot vote, based on his age, but can be voted for.