TODAY   |  March 02, 2013

Cardinals prepare to elect new leader of Catholic Church

“'We are well aware of the difficulties and we are well aware of the importance of this choice and so we will be approaching to very seriously,” said Peter Jensen, the Archbishop of Sydney. The Cardinals will officially gather Monday to discuss the candidates in closed-door meetings. NBC’s Keir Simmons reports.

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>> around the world are flocking to the vatican as they prepare to choose their next pope. we have a reporter in vatican city . good morning.

>> reporter: good morning. speculation is mounting here over when the election process will start. and much focus on the fact that three cardinals who rotate secret reports are here and could be questioned by the other cardinals . across rome this morning, the question, who will be pope? the enclave is urged to vote for peter turkson . they were printed in jest, campaigning is frowned upon. the man who must choose the next pope, the cardinals , will spend the weekend taking every opportunity to talk.

>> i think there is some excitement about the cardinals finally getting together to meet.

>> reporter: they officially gather on monday at 9:30 and are expected to announce the date of the conclave. the papal election , a chance for the church to change according to the cardinals from new york.

>> do we need to be very serious about renewal? you bet we do.

>> reporter: the vatican 's media adviser said it could be smub from outside the car analyze.

>> any baptized male can be elected pope. so the cardinals could go out of the college of cardinals in terms of candidates, looking for candidates. it would be an exception. but it could happen.

>> reporter: until a decision is made, the pope's private apartments have been sealed after his final farewell . the pope spent the first day of his new life working in the gardens of the home for the next few months. seeing pope benedict xvi 's health decline, the next pope should be someone robust.

>> i hope we don't move through a succession of popes that resign quickly.

>> reporter: while it's a pizza square, people lined up to buy stamps marking this period without a pontiff. the vatican gets down to choosing its new leader. and one newspaper this morning suggesting that the man chosen might be older rather than younger as previously had been talked b experts said that is probably just speculation. it just underlines that the person who will be chosen at the moment is as mysterious as the election process itself.

>> all right. thank you with that dramatic backdrop.