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At the top of their agenda will be the announcement of a date for the cardinals to enter the conclave – a closed, secret voting session held inside the Sistine Chapel that continues until they agree on a new leader for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. General congregations are the preliminary talks at which cardinals identify the key tasks facing the church, prior to the conclave at which they choose the best candidate suited to those tasks.

The first general congregation will take place in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall, according to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals.  A second will take place at 5:00 p.m. local time (11 a.m. ET), he told reporters.


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Papal Conclave 2013 Watch: What is Sede Vacante  was originally published on

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