Next Pope Watch: Sistine Chapel Closed Until Further Notice

8:57 AM, Mar 5, 2013   |    comments
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St Louis Catholic School in Virginia holds its own mock conclave (@brucejohnson9 via Twitter)
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  • WASHINGTON (WUSA 9) -- The Sistine Chapel at the Vatican is being closed Tuesday until further notice, reports WUSA 9's Bruce Johnson. 117 cardinal electors will select the next Pope.

    The date for the conclave will be set Wednesday when the cardinal from China arrives --- he's the last elector, says Johnson.

    Monday, Monsignor Bartholomew Smith of Saint Bernadette's Catholic Church in Silver Spring, Md. spoke to Johnson.

    Monsignor Smith, who worked in the Vatican for four years and was there when Benedict XVI was elected Pope, said  the current group of cardinals who will select Benedict's successor will take their time and not rush into a decision on the new Pope.

    He told Johnson that a March 15th start for the conclave would not surprise him: "They need to get to know one another." About 25 percent of the cardinals have been in office only a couple of years.

    Monsignor Smith also believed there are several candidates for the top post, sharing, "I've seen a list with at least 16 names."

    He added that the church doctrine won't change regardless of who gets the nod.

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