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Conclave to elect a new pope begins

THE VATICAN - As thunder boomed over St. Peter's Square, the cardinals who will elect the next pope held a mass Tuesday morning inside the square's historic basilica, where they prayed for God's guidance hours before they will cast their first ballots for the next pontiff.

The pews of the basilica were crowded with the red-robed cardinals - three Canadians among them -- while thousands outside watched the mass on giant TV screens in rainy, cool conditions.

"Today, we implore the Lord, that through the pastoral solicitude of the Cardinal Fathers, He may soon grant another Good Shepherd to his Holy Church," Cardinal Angelo Sodano said in the homily or sermon.

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