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Voting process for new pope underway

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Today's initial vote is seen as a test vote for Cardinals, because at this point, there's no clear frontrunner for pope.

The 115 cardinals who will elect the next pope have started their secret voting conclave. After gathering at the Vatican's Pauline Chapel, they filed into the Sistine Chapel singing the Litany of Saints. It's a chant asking the saints to help them choose a pope.

Then they took an oath of secrecy, and the master of ceremonies gave the command, "Extra omnes!" which in Latin means "everybody out" and the doors to the Chapel were closed. The cardinals are now praying and voting in silence.

It's not just smoke from a chimney on top of the Sistine Chapel that will announce if a new pope has been elected. There is also a website offering to send text messages, but it was so flooded with requests, it had to stop taking them.

The cardinals celebrated Mass at St. Peter's Basilica this morning. The dean of the College of Cardinals urged them to put aside their differences as they elect a new leader. They are expected to vote just once today, and up to four times a day until one cardinal receives at least 77 votes.

Security has been beefed up in St. Peter's square where hundreds of thousands of people will gather to see the new pope introduced to the world.

While the voting is underway, the campaigning and debate is far from over. Between voting sessions, the cardinals talk among themselves during meals and down time at the apartments were they're staying.

The conclave is expected to last at least 2 days

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