Cardinals at the Vatican have sworn an oath of secrecy about their upcoming conclave to elect a new pope.

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The Vatican said 107 of the 115 voting-age cardinals attended the first day of pre-conclave meetings, at which cardinals organize the election, discuss the problems of the church and get to know one another before voting.

They prayed together, chatted over coffee and took an oath to maintain "rigorous secrecy with regard to all matters in any way related to the election of the Roman Pontiff."

No date has been set yet for the conclave, but speculation has mounted that it might begin around March 11, with the aim of having a new pope installed by March 17, the Sunday before Palm Sunday and the start of Holy Week.

With 115 electors, 77 votes are needed to reach the two-thirds majority to be elected pope.


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