VATICAN CITY -- Vatican officials on Friday confirmed the College of Cardinals will begin the papal conclave on Tuesday, March 12.
A "pro eligendo Romano Pontifice" mass will be celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica in the morning, followed by the highly secretive process to elect the new leader of the Catholic church.
New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan's name has come up as a possible contender for pope, along with that of Sean Patrick O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston.
Experts familiar with the voting process say the chances of an American pontiff will grow as the days without a pope stretch on.
"At the start of the conclave, less than a 50 percent chance, down to 30 percent chance. If the conclave goes on for a few days and the front runners who come up in the first few ballots we see are not getting the two-thirds majority, then they're going to have to look for other people," said Very Reverend Andrew Small of the Pontifical Mission Societies.
NY1's Vivian Lee is in Vatican City and will have reports throughout the day.