The Vatican on Saturday installed a special chimney on the Sistine Chapel from which white smoke will signal the election of a new pope as cardinals prepare for the historic vote next week after Benedict XVI’s resignation.
The conclave of 115 “cardinal electors” will begin on Tuesday under Michelangelo’s famous frescoes to choose the 266th pope following the abrupt end to Benedict’s eight-year papacy which was often overshadowed by scandals.
French cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, the Archbishop of Paris, told AFP in an interview that there were around “half a dozen possible candidates.”
Italian cardinal Angelo Scola, the Archbishop of Milan, is seen as one favourite, along with Canada’s Marc Ouellet and Brazil’s Odilo Scherer.
Other names mentioned on the rumour mill in recent days have been Hungary’s Peter Erdo, Mexico’s Jose Francisco Robles Ortega, Austria’s Christoph Schoenborn and Sri Lanka’s Albert Malcolm Ranjith.
“The problem with this conclave is that there is no early frontrunner like Joseph Ratzinger in 2005,”