The papal conclave is officially underway at the Vatican - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

The papal conclave is officially underway at the Vatican

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115 Catholic cardinals process into the storied Sistine Chapel to take a sacred oath of secrecy.

This will be the last public glimpse of the cardinals until after the conclave.

They will not emerge until they've selected a new pope.

The group began the day with a traditional votive mass.

"My brothers, let us pray that the Lord will grant us a pontiff who will embrace this noble mission with a generous heart," Cardinal Angelo Sodano said.

Preparations for the papal conclave have been under way since Benedict XVI announced he was retiring last month.

With the voting cardinals sealed inside the Sistine Chapel, all eyes will be on the Vatican chimney.

Black smoke from burned ballots signals an unsuccessful vote.

White smoke means there is a new pope.

"It has to be someone who can lead the faithful in the great issues of our day," Cardinal Edward Egan, a Retired Archbishop of New York said.

A contender must get two-thirds of the votes to be elected pontiff.

Once the pope is elected he will choose a new name and be vested in his new papal garments.

"A new thing that has been added this year is when the cardinals and the holy father leave the Sistine Chapel, their first stop is in the Pauline chapel, where the holy father will enter alone, and pray before the blessed sacrament. He then rejoins the group and they go to the loggia of St. Peter's Basilica," Father Tom Rosica, a Vatican Spokesman said.

Red curtains are hanging from the central balcony at St. Peter's where the newly-elected pope will be announced to the world for the first time.

It can take anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour between the white smoke and the appearance on the balcony.

The installation mass is likely to take place within five days of the conclave.

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