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Smoke signals: Could we have a new pope soon?

  • The conclave will begin next Tuesday
  • Cardinals are meeting to select a new pope
Smoke signals: Could we have a new pope soon?

The Vatican says the secret election -- conclave -- to vote on a new pope will start Tuesday, March 12.

Read more: What's next: How a pope is chosen

The cardinals have been meeting since Monday to discuss the major issues facing the church -- things like the child sex abuse scandal.

When the cardinals start to place their secret votes for pope, we’ll see smoke signals from the Sistine Chapel. Black means they failed to get the required number of votes (two-thirds plus one). White means they’ve made a decision. The chimney that will send up those smoke signals could go up as early as Friday.

Read more: Abuse survivors name pope picks, 'dirty dozen'

And while these social media-savvy cardinals have sworn an oath of secrecy, the Vatican isn’t taking chances. It has put up an electronic shield to keep them from using their phones and other mobile devices to contact the outside world.

Watch Evening Express weeknights 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET on HLN.

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