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Vatican Preps Sistine Chapel for Conclave; No Date Set

GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images(ROME) -- As the Vatican prepares the Sistine Chapel for the start of the conclave, the cardinals gathering to discuss the papal election appear to be taking their time.

“It is unlikely we will set a date today,” the Rev. Thomas Rosica told reporters.  “For one thing, the chapel is not yet ready.”

Workers have started installing floorboards to protect the chapel’s marble floors as well as the stove to burn the ballots and communicate the election results.

The Vatican spokesman noted that jamming devices are now being installed in the chapel, but not under the floorboards as previously reported.  

“They won’t work if you put them there,” Rosica said.  Instead he described the jamming device “more like a shield on an airplane” installed high up on the walls.

They are also still waiting for a few tardy cardinals.  As of Wednesday afternoon, voting cardinals from Vietnam and Warsaw, Poland, had yet to arrive in Rome.  But 113 of the 115 cardinals expected to participate in the conclave were there and sworn to secrecy.

On Wednesday, cardinals participating in closed-door deliberations ahead of the conclave adopted a 5-minute rule to limit the length of speeches.  So far, 51 of them from five continents have addressed the group.

At least one participant reportedly expressed his frustration with some of the speeches.

"No matter how brilliant you may think your speech is, do we really need it?" Nigerian Cardinal John Oneiyekan told the National Catholic Reporter.

The cardinals will be giving no more interviews or press conferences from now on.  According to the Vatican press office, they have collectively decided that it is in the best interests of the process to adhere to a gag order.

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