There is no definite date yet when would the conclave to elect a new pope be held. The cardinals are still waiting for the arrival of five more cardinals before they lock themselves inside the Sistine Chapel to cast their ballots.
In the meantime, the 100 cardinals already in Vatican City are holding pre-conclave meetings to discuss the needs of the Roman Catholic Church. Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi declined to provide details of the meetings except to say the topics covered were broad and varied.
The topics include "the activity of the Holy See and its various dicasteries, their relationships with the bishops, the renewal of the church in the light of the Second Vatican Council, the situation of the church and the needs for new evangelization in the world, including in different cultural situations," Fr Lombardi said.
During the pre-conclave meetings, 33 cardinals from all continents had addressed fellow bishops.
Among the 105 cardinals attending the conclave is retired U.S. Cardinal Roger Mahony who has been the subject of criticisms for his alleged failure to prevent sexual abuse of children by clergymen. He defended his attendance in the conclave.
"I'm here because the Holy Father appointed me a cardinal in 1991, and the primary job of a cardinal, the No. 1 job is actually the election of a new pope should a vacancy occur," Catholic News Service quoted Cardinal Mahony.
"Without my even having to inquire, the nuncio in Washington phoned me a week or so ago and said, 'I have word from the highest folks in the Vatican: You are to come to Rome and you are to participate in the conclave,'" he quoted the nuncio.
Ahead of the conclave, the Vatican temporarily closed the Sistine Chapel where the election would be held. The chapel, famous for the ceiling painting of Italian renaissance artist Michaelangelo, had actually scaled down on the number of visitors when it turned 500 years old in October 2012.
Among the bookmakers' top bets to be the next pope are Ghanian Cardinal Peter Turkson, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet and Italian Cardinal Angelo Scola.
There is a growing clamour for the next pope to come from third world countries where the bulk of Catholics live, dimming the chance for Cardinal Scola who was appointed in 2011 as Bishop of Milan.
However, should Cardinal Scola be elected, cardinals could be accused of bringing back the Catholic Church to the 15th century since the cardinal is known for his very conservative views on controversial issues such as abortion, genetic engineering, birth control and feminism.
The following video presents views of the Italian papabile in a homily.