The eyes of some one billion-plus Catholics are on the Sistine Chapel as the papal election begins today with Conclave 2013 holding its first vote. Now that the 115 members of the College of Cardinals are gathered in Vatican City, the process for selecting a replacement for the now retired Pope Emeritus Benedict VXI will start. Cardinal Angelo Sodano is calling for unity for the Church, which has had some rough times over the recent decades. An early front runner, according to InTrade, is Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan. The Papal Conclave held their traditional mass this morning and we could have a new pope should one get the necessary 2/3rds plus 1 ballots in the first vote to be held this afternoon. Thousands of Catholics and the curious are watching the roof of the Sistine Chapel for the signal of either black smoke, meaning no one won, or white smoke announcing that a new pope has been elected.

papal election

Like any body of humans, there are many factions within the Catholic Church. Some seek for a more progressive, modern church allowing priests to marry, women to serve as priests and ending the Church′s long held positions on issues like abortion and homosexuality. Others are Traditionalists, more Conservative, who believe that the Church must stand its ground. Of course, there are also ′moderates′, like Cardinal Odilo Scherer from Sao Paulo, Brazil, who appears more ′media-savvy′ and might be a ′bridge′ between factions.

There is no telling how long the papal elections will take to select the replacement for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. The College of Cardinals begin their Papal Conclave 2013 today, holding their first vote this afternoon in Vatican City. The results of each vote will be signaled to the world with smoke from a chimney pipe on top of the Sistine Chapel. With 115 Cardinals voting, the magic number is 77. Some experts are predicting that Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan may already have at least 40 votes committed to his election as the next pope of the Catholic Church.