The conclave to elect a new Pope starts Tuesday in the Vatican City.
“I think this is an important time for all the faithful of the world. Catholic or not,” says Dr. Tom Ryan at the Loyola Institute for Ministry.
One hundred and fifteen Cardinals under the age of eighty will cast their first ballot at 6pm Rome time.
The new Pope must have two thirds of the vote for white smoke to appear from the Sistine Chapel announcing a decision is made, “We’re not likely to see white smoke tomorrow or probably not even the next day. If it lasts more than two days that means there are two candidates who can’t get the required two thirds vote.”
Dr. Ryan says it’s unlikely a United States Cardinal will be elected Pope but they’ll play an important role in the balloting, “Because the church in the United States remains a dynamic force. More so than some of the European churches.”
Ryan says a modern day Pope must inspire people to live good lives, “The other thing is I think we need somebody who is a manager who can oversee and organize people.”
He also says age and health are a factor, “Do they want an older Pope who wouldn’t serve as long. Or would they want a Pope who is young, who could be in the office for a decade or more?”
Ryan says “who” becomes the new Pope is crucial for more than just Catholics, “If the Catholic Church thrives then all of religion thrives. I think if the Catholic Church is weak that affects other religions as well.”
Dr. Ryan says at this point there are likely fewer than ten candidates with two to four Cardinals as frontrunners.
The longest to decide a new Pope took two years and nine months in 1268. The shortest, less than 24 hours.