Local Catholics watch conclave closely, await new pope - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Local Catholics watch conclave closely, await new pope

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JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – The world got its only glimpse Tuesday into the now secret process to select the new pope.

Black smoke poured from a chimney at the Sistine Chapel, signaling that a decision has yet to be made.

Catholics worldwide, including the faithful in Jonesboro, are now anxious to see who will succeed Pope Benedict XVI.

"I keep praying, and I know if it's in the hands of the Lord," Sister Elaine Willett said, "we'll get who He wants."

Sister Elaine and the other Olivetan Benedictine Sisters at the Holy Angels convent in Jonesboro will watch the proceedings at the Vatican closely, alongside millions of others from the comfort of their couch.

The nuns plan to gather each evening around the television to find out what developments have come that day from Vatican City.

They are also praying for the group of 115 cardinals now meeting behind closed doors, as they keep voting to choose the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

"If the Lord really guides each one of them, keeps them from being, I'd say, selfish or looking at only one aspect," Sister Elaine said, "the results will be good."

She says that she is largely unfamiliar with the current group of cardinals, so she is unsure which of them will succeed Pope Benedict after his stunning, historic resignation in February. She hopes that whoever it is has a broad world view and takes his role as a peacekeeper seriously.

"One thing that he will [also] probably have to do is doing a lot of traveling to actually see and be with the people," Sister Elaine said. "That's what the other one [Benedict] could not do any longer."

She now waits excitedly to see when white smoke will finally billow from the chapel chimney at the Vatican, signaling there is a new pope. She expects that decision not to come anytime soon, but when it happens, she says it will be a great day.

"Everybody will be scrambling to find out who this is, if they don't know, and what will he be like," Sister Elaine said. "Where will he go, really? It will be interesting."

The College of Cardinals will meet again Wednesday morning for Mass and a new round of voting.

The conclave will continue, following the same set of rituals each day until a new pope is elected.

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