Cardinals were treated like rock stars as they entered the Vatican on Monday morning, with television crews swarming around the red-capped churchmen and their handlers pushing their way through the crowds.You never forget your first time.
"A Latin American Pope is possible, everything is possible!" said Portuguese Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins as he entered.
The core agenda item is to set the date for the conclave and set in place procedures to prepare for it, including closing the Sistine Chapel to visitors and getting the Vatican hotel cleared out and de-bugged, lest anyone try to listen in on the secret conversations of the cardinals.
But a date may not be agreed upon Monday as the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, has said the date won't be finalized until all cardinals have arrived in Rome.
The first day of discussion was again rocked by revelations of scandal, with Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien admitting that he had engaged in sexual misconduct not befitting a priest, archbishop or cardinal.
O'Brien last week resigned as archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh and said he wouldn't participate in the conclave after four men came forward with allegations that he had acted inappropriately with them — the first time a cardinal has stayed away from a conclave because of personal scandal.
*Phrase stolen from Harry Shearer.