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The Politics Of Selecting A Pope
The work to elect the next pope begins today.
115 cardinals are gathered in Vatican City for the papal conclave.
So, how does a cardinal become pope?
In the politics of becoming pope, there's never been a race quite like this.
The church's problems are enormous. The need for a powerful, unifying pope has never been greater.
"We have to finish this, we have to get on with this. If we don't do this, it's over, blow the candles out,” said Monsignor Kevin Irwin with the Archdiocese of New York.
The new pope will have to reinvigorate the church and bring its enormous bureaucracy, the curia, into the modern world.
"The church does not just run on Hail Marys, you know, we gotta make it work in terms of personnel and money and being effective, and I think the question is how effective is the curia in an internet 24/7 world," stated Venerina Labbate the owner of the Venerina Restaurant.
From the time a cardinal becomes a cardinal the race for pope is on.
They are judged on their intellectual, religious and spiritual heft. They are even judged on their ability to communicate in Italian.
Venerina restaurant just round the corner from the Vatican. Cardinals come here in the ones and twos, they have lunch, dinner, sometimes a little wine. It's in places like this where much of the heavy lifting is done.
Venerina Labbate has served meals to well-connected and powerful Vatican insiders for 21 years.
"Dozens of cardinals have been here for the last couple of weeks," she says, "when you're at the table you decide things."
Deciding is important for many reasons, as one cardinal jokingly told her during his last meal here. When the conclave is under way, it's bread and water until a new pope is named.