The Vatican sought Saturday to quash speculation that divisions among cardinals could drag out the conclave to elect the new pope, while preparations for the vote plowed ahead with firefighters installing the Sistine Chapel chimney that will tell the world when a decision has been reached.
But the specter of an inconclusive first few rounds of secret balloting remained high, with no clear front-runner heading into Tuesday’s papal election and a long list of cardinals still angling to discuss the church’s problems ahead of the vote.
“You don’t have your mind absolutely made up" going into the conclave, U.S. Cardinal Justin Rigali, who participated in the 2005 conclave that elected Benedict XVI, said last week. “You have your impressions."
The Vatican spokesman, however, took pains to stress the “vast," near-unanimous decision by the 115 cardinal electors to set Tuesday as the start date and noted that no conclave in a century has dragged on for more than five days.
Also ahead of the conclave, the cardinals were briefed on the Vatican’s finances. The battle lines are hazy, but the fight pits different factions inside the Vatican against one another, some seeking greater transparency and others who want to preserve the institution’s tradition of secrecy. The bank, as well as the papacy itself, has knowingly been bedeviled by crises of governance for some time.