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New pope: Optimism grips Vatican as last cardinal arrives in Rome

March 7, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Optimism took hold in the Vatican with the arrival of the last cardinal in Rome on Thursday, signaling that the world is one step closer to finding out the election date of the next pope.

Vietnamese Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man arrived Thursday and did not answer media questions. He has missed the past four days of pre-conclave discussions. Now that all 115 voting cardinals are in place, a decision on the conclave is very close.

Former Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony tweeted Thursday, saying "Days of General Congregations reaching a conclusion. Setting of date for Conclave nearing. Mood of excitement prevails among Cardinals."

While some American cardinals want the pre-conclave meetings to continue, Vatican-based cardinals want to get on with it. The pre-conclave meetings are the only chance cardinals will have to discuss the problems that face the church before being locked inside the Sistine Chapel.

Monsignor Terry Flemming from the Mid-Wilshire district of Los Angeles is in Rome for what will be his fourth conclave.

Flemming said he thinks this conclave is going to take a while, perhaps as long as a week.

When Pope Benedict XVI was voted in eight years ago, the decision came in just two days. At that time, a simple majority was needed; now, 2/3 majority is needed to elect a new pope.

Flemming has spent many years in the Vatican environment and has a wealth of information. From history to current issues in the church, he says even though the sex scandals in the church have tarnished the institution's image, the population of Catholics continues to grow, particularly in the Americas. This could play an important role in determining the next pope.

"I think the Americas are going to show the leadership," he said. "So that's from North America, to Central and South America, and that's where the people are. So I think that's going to come out in spades."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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