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Cardinals to Begin Conclave April 18th


Roman Catholic cardinals who will choose a new pope have decided to begin their closed-door deliberations on Monday, April 18th.

A Vatican spokesman told reporters Wednesday that a special Mass will precede the conclave and then the cardinals will meet to begin the process of electing a successor to the late Pope John Paul.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of mourners continue to stand in line waiting for a chance to pay their last respects to the late pontiff. Officials say they will cut off the line at 10 p.m. local time (20 hours UTC) Wednesday night to give all those already waiting a chance to pay their last respects to the pope before Saint Peter's Basilica closes Thursday night ahead of the pope's funeral.

The Vatican estimates one million people already have filed past the pope's body in Saint Peter's Basilica, and it anticipates at least another 600,000 today.

Rome is tightening security because John Paul's funeral on Friday is drawing leaders from all over the world, including President Bush and his two immediate predecessors, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush.

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