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As Cardinals Vet Possible Popes, Names May Emerge

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Will there be any clues in coming days and weeks about which cardinal will replace the now-departed Pope Benedict XVI?

NPR's Cokie Roberts, who is in Rome, said on Morning Edition that we just might get some hints. Most of the 115 or so cardinals who can take part in the voting about a new pope are already in Rome. They'll gather Monday to discuss just when to officially begin their conclave — the secret session at which they debate the choices and vote on a selection. It's expected they'll decide to begin in about a week.

Nearly 60 percent of the cardinals, Cokie noted, were appointed by Benedict and have not been part of a conclave before. They need to "get to know each other, get to understand the rules." They're also looking, she reported, to choose a pope who "will have absolutely no scandal connected to him. ... They have had enough of that."

So, the men they consider are "going to require some vetting." That means questions will be asked about those men and "I think we'll start getting a few leaks" about who is being considered, Cokie told Steve Inskeep.

Also from Rome, NPR's Sylvia Poggioli tells our Newscast Desk that there have been "informal" contacts among the cardinals for nearly three weeks — since Benedict's Feb. 11 announcement that he was stepping down. She says "a lot of politicking is going on behind the scenes."

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