Surrounded by centuries of religious art, 115 cardinals hold the future of the world’s Roman Catholic Church in their hands.
Tomorrow the doors of the Sistine Chapel in Rome will close and they will be locked inside. Then the voting to choose the next pope will begin – one of them to emerge leader.
Among the most scrutinised is Odilo Pedro Scherer, of Sao Paolo, Brazil, and the Italian Angelo Scola of Milan. Other potential candidates exciting the most speculation are Canada’s Marc Ouellet, Timothy Dolan of the United States and Argentina’s Leonardo Sandri.
On Sunday, Scola said: “Let us pray that the Holy Spirit gives the Church a man who can lead it in the footsteps of the great pontiffs.”
The next one must attempt to restore confidence after sexual abuse scandals involving priests, and criticism of corruption and incompetence in the Church during the pontificate of the retired Benedict XVI.