Papal Conclave: How Long Does It Take?

Diane Sawyer discusses the Catholic church's process for choosing a new leader.
3:06 | 03/12/13

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Transcript for Papal Conclave: How Long Does It Take?
diane sawyer, of course, leading our complete team coverage of the papal conclave. She's at the vatican city anchor desk. I'm not sure how much you packed in your suitcase. What are you hearing about how long this will take? Reporter: Ar, robin, so great to talk to you here amid the pageantry, the pilgrims coming to rome and on average, 3.3 days has been how long it's taken to elect a new pope. It's been about a hundred years since it took five days but keep in mind, these cardinals have already heard some 160 speeches about the future of the church, so many of them say or signal at least privately that they have some idea going in who they think should lead the church next. Well, they've been together for the majority for some time right now. We look behind you and we see the gray skies. Of course, it all comes down to the smoke. Everybody is going to be looking at the chimney, white smoke means that a pope has been selected. Black smoke means not so much -- not yet, but we have seen in the past that it can sometimes be confusing, right, diane? Reporter: It certainly can be. We all remember when pope benedict was elected that we looked at the skies and it was black, no, it was white, no, it was gray, no, it wablack, no, it was white and we were all waiting for the giant bells to peal and issue confirmation. It really is amazing that in this age of twitter we are all still standing by and watching for the smoke as we will be again. But it is part of the ancient ritual. In fact, I kept thinking today as we looked at the scenes coming out of the basilica you could have been 400 years ago and this is exactly what you would have seen but it is truly wonderful to be here with these profound questions about this church and a changing time, this ancient belief, ancient faith and the changing world. We heard josh allude to it in his report, diane. There are many issues facing the church. How do the cardinals come together? Is there a sense they're divided or united right now? Reporter: Well, you keep hearing over and over again from cardinals I've talked to and also from others that the biggest question is do you have a charismatic, global pope, or do you rededicate to the intellectual core of the faith alone? And, you know, we saw the picture this morning of the american cardinals leaving with their bags packed to go into the conclave. And they really have, as josh said, reminded everyone of the vitality and what it is to travel among the people and to create joy as well as a sense of possibility for this church. We see cardinal dolan always with a big smile that he has. Diane, great to see you in. We'll be seeing much more of you because diane will anchor a special report from the vatican this morning when the conclave is scheduled to begin. It starts at 11:30 a.M. Eastern and diane will have all the latest on a special edition of "world news tonight" with the entire abc news team.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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