Ahead of the conclave the favorite to become the next pope appears to be Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer of Brazil. However, there has never been a pope from outside Europe. Other top contenders are Cardinals Angelo Scola and Angelo Bagnasco of Italy, Peter Erdo of Hungary, Christoph Schoenborn of Austria, Marc Ouellet of Canada, Leonardo Sandri of Argentina, and Timothy Dolan of the United States.
When the cardinals do gather in the Sistine Chapel, they will cast anonymous ballots - with a maximum of four cast in a single day - until one cardinal has earned a two-thirds majority. After each vote, the ballots are burned and black smoke is emitted from the chimney. White smoke signals a new pope has been picked.
In 2005, cardinals selected Benedict the day after the conclave had started. A week after his resignation, the wait continues to see who his successor will be.