VATICAN CITY — Like first-year seminarians, they walked through the
glass doors on Monday carrying briefcases. Some arrived in chauffeured
cars and taxis. Wearing long black coats and red caps, they took their
assigned places in maroon lecture-halls seats, flipped through the
assigned reading, recited prayers and swore on the Bible to “maintain
rigorous secrecy” about their task.
Some 145 cardinals gathered on the first day of meetings required upon the end of a papacy — usually by death, but in this rare case, resignation. The morning session was devoted to preparatory matters. Through the week, the cardinals will discuss matters of importance to the church and choose a date — possibly as early as Sunday or Monday — for the conclave to elect a successor to Benedict XVI, who stepped aside last week.
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