Cardinals begin preliminary meetings to choose new pope
Vatican City - Roman Catholic cardinals are meeting Monday to start the process of electing a new pope.
They are expected to set a date for the start of a conclave during which a successor to Benedict XVI will be chosen. But a decision on the closed-door assembly in the Sistine Chapel was not expected Monday.
The General Congregation of Cardinals, which held its first meeting at 9:30 am (0830 GMT), may last several days.
Benedict ended his papacy Thursday, saying that at 85, he was too frail to continue in office. He retired to Castel Gandolfo, on the outskirts of Rome, and will not return to the Vatican until a new pope is elected.
There is no clear favourite to succeed Benedict - the first pope to resign in almost 600 years.
One likely contender among the Italian candidates is the Archbishop of Milan, Angelo Scola. But there is also a chance that the next pope will be non-European.//DPA