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Conclave electing papal successor to begin April 18

[JURIST] The Vatican announced Wednesday that the College of Cardinals [Vatican backgrounder] has set April 18 as the beginning of its secret conclave to elect a successor to Pope John Paul II, who died Saturday [JURIST report]. The conclave will begin that afternoon, and according to the governing apostolic constitution on papal succession [text], one ballot will be held during its first day. During Wednesday's pre-conclave meeting, the cardinals also read John Paul's spiritual testament. It was thought that the document would reveal the identity of an unidentified cardinal named in 2003 "in pectore," a process that is used when a pope wants to appoint a cardinal in a country where the church is oppressed. However, no name was disclosed and so that individual will not join the ranks of the 117 cardinal members of the College eligible to vote [Vatican list of electors, with profiles] for the next pope. Cardinals over 80 [Vatican list, with profiles] are ineligible. Of the 117 electors, 114 were appointed by John Paul II. The Vatican has a press release (in Italian) on the conclave date. AP has more.

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