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Charleston bishop shares expectations for Conclave

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Mass at St. John the Baptist Mass at St. John the Baptist

By Eric Egan
eegan@abcnews4.com

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- As the world watched the happenings in Rome, Catholics in Charleston gathered for a special mass. Prayers were led by Charleston Diocese Bishop Robert Guglielmone for the College of Cardinals and the election of the next pope.

It's been about eight years since churches worldwide have focused such attention on Rome. Before that, it was back in 1978 when Pope John Paul II was elected. Tuesday's church has different needs and issues, but the same hope for a new holy father to lead.

Bishop Guglielmone addressed the congregation around 12 p.m. Tuesday, the same time the doors at the Sistine Chapel were being locked, signifying the beginning of Conclave.

Bishop Guglielmone prayed on behalf of the cardinals, that they'd be inspired to make the right choice for the church, and the world.

"Hopefully they will be able to elect a pope who will respond to the needs of the times now," he said.

Guglielmone expects a pope to be elected, at the latest, by Friday. He said the process presents a new possibility, for a new pope, to speak for goodness and hope. For the first time two American-born cardinals, Sean O'Malley and Timothy Dolan, are considered long shots to gain the papacy.

"Cardinal Dolan has made a tremendous impact, just simply by his personality, his openness, his ability to deal with people," Guglielmone said. "And Cardinal O'Malley is certainly considered to be a very, very fine candidate."

Still, America's role as a world superpower may create some uneasiness among cardinals.

As far as who could be named the next pontiff, the favorites are not always the choice. Aside from Pope Benedict, it's sometimes a surprise.

"Most times, John Paul wasn't, John Paul I, they weren't necessarily the favorites," Guglielmone said.

Whoever emerges, they'll be pressed to uphold centuries of tradition, in a culture of consistent change.

"You have to somehow respond to the needs of present moment, and I think that's the major, major issue with many of the cardinals," he said.

Pope Benedict was elected on the second day of Conclave, after four votes.

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