More than 100 Catholic cardinals from around the world are now in Rome for the conclave to elect a new pope. The doors of the Sistine Chapel will close Tuesday for the election process to begin.
"Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will move the Church to choose a pope who will confirm us in our faith," Cardinal Sean O'Malley, archbishop of Boston, said.
There is said to be no clear front-runner among the 115 cardinals, but some of the same names keep coming up in all the speculation.
"Everybody but the cardinals out of here and we will see those doors close, no cameras inside, and that is an opportunity for all the Church to begin praying and to ask the Holy Spirit to help guide these men in their selection," Father Thomas Rosica, Vatican spokesman, said.
That selection is said to be wide open as the cardinals debate whether the next pope should be someone with the charisma to attract new members or a manager to overhaul the church in a time of sex-abuse scandals and disarray.
Reports from Rome point to several camps being formed in the historic decision.
Italy has the largest group of electors. One Italian newspaper said Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan is going into the conclave with 40 of the 77 votes needed to win.
Cardinal Odilo Scherer of Sao Paulo is another name often mentioned. His papacy would be historic as the first pope from Latin America.
There is still the possibility of an American pope, like Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, to be chosen.
"A week ago, we would have said, 'Wow we have a lot of work to do.' But now, you see a sense of resignation and trust and faith," Dolan said.
Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley is also among the American names being mentioned as a possible contender.