April 17, 2005

Cardinals embark on selecting a new Pope


By Sandi Dolbee
April 17, 2005

ROME Long conference tables and wooden chairs inside the Sistine Chapel are set up, the chimney pipe from which white smoke will signal a successful election is in place, and the red drapes over the balcony where a new pope will emerge are hung.

Housekeepers, cooks and other support staff have taken their vow of secrecy, the sites have been swept for eavesdropping devices and the official nine days of mourning Masses for Pope John Paul II are concluded.

All systems are go for tomorrow's start of the first papal conclave in nearly 27 years, and the mounting gossip and intrigue could rival that surrounding "The Da Vinci Code." ...

Besides the throngs of tourists and journalists, special-interest groups have descended on Rome and the Vatican to get the word out about their causes. Whether they've succeeded is another matter because cardinals are sticking by their decision last week not to talk to the media.

Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a U.S. victims' rights group with some 5,500 members, said she was turned away by Swiss guards when she tried to deliver a letter to the Vatican. Repeated phone calls also were unsuccessful.

Posted by kshaw at April 17, 2005 08:24 AM