Catholic cardinals have met for a second day Tuesday at the Vatican, but have not yet set a timetable for selecting a new pope.
A total of 110 out of the 115 cardinal-electors, those younger than 80 who are eligible to elect the pope, are now in Rome, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said Tuesday.
The five cardinal-electors who have not yet arrived have been in touch with the College of Cardinals, and the Vatican knows when they are coming, he said. He did not say when that would be, however, or give reasons for their delayed arrival.
No date has yet been proposed for the conclave to select Pope Benedict XVI's successor, said Lombardi.
It is not necessary for all the cardinal-electors to be present for the conclave date to be set, he said, but they do have to be given time to get there.
Another Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Thomas Rosica, said: "There is no desire to rush things but to take this time for discernment and reflection, and that's been evident in the meetings thus far."
The famous Sistine Chapel, where the secretive conclave takes place, was closed to the public at lunchtime Tuesday for preparations and will remain so until further notice, the official Vatican Museums website said.
Those cardinals already in Rome met twice Monday, in the morning and in the evening, as they began a series of meetings known as general congregations.
The group decided that congregations on Tuesday and Wednesday would take place in the morning only.
The general congregations are a key step before the conclave.
Cardinals who want to speak in the meetings sign up to do so, and can speak for as long as they want on any topic they want, Lombardi said.
So far, 33 cardinals have spoken. There are 148 in the congregations as of Tuesday morning, he said.
According to Italian media reports, discussions Monday focused on an internal investigation into leaks from the Vatican, the outcome of which has so far been seen only by Benedict, and the church's handling of the scandal over child sex abuse by priests.
The cardinals also talked about the kind of pope they want to see at the head of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.
'As long as it takes'
U.S. Cardinals Sean O'Malley of Boston and Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, speaking to reporters after Tuesday's congregation, said the cardinals were in no hurry to set a date for the conclave.
"I think this is the most important decision that some of us will ever make, and we need to give it the time that's necessary," O'Malley said. "We want to have enough time in the general congregations so that when we go into the conclave, it's a time of decision. This is a time of discernment and prayer and reflections."
"It takes as long as it takes," DiNardo said, adding that there were "plenty of points of view among the cardinals" about when the conclave should begin.
"No one really wants to rush this if it can't be rushed," he said.
Both laughed off speculation that they could be elected pope, although some betting agencies rate O'Malley as the most likely American to become pope.
O'Malley was asked if he would continue to wear his brown Capuchin robe if he did become pontiff.
"I have worn this uniform for 40 years and I expect to wear it until I die, and that's because I don't expect to be elected pope," he said.
DiNardo, who lives in Texas, was then asked if he would keep wearing a cowboy hat if he became pope. "That's an 'Alice in Wonderland' question. We're going down the rabbit hole in terms of my being elected pope," he said.
Transfer of power
Benedict announced his intention to step down on February 11 and resigned Thursday, becoming the first pope to do so in almost 600 years. The transfer of papal power has almost always happened after the sitting pope has died.