Cardinals, after a week-long meeting, set Tuesday as the start date for the conclave to elect the next Pope. Tuesday will begin with a morning Mass and the first and only round of secret balloting in the afternoon.

If there is no immediate victor, the cardinals will retire for the day to return on Wednesday for two rounds of balloting in the morning, two rounds in the afternoon until a Pope has been chosen. In the past 100 years, no conclave has lasted longer than five days. A Tuesday start date could be read as something of a compromise.

Monday had been seen as an obvious choice to start the conclave to ensure a Pope would be elected and installed by Sunday, March 17 — the last Sunday before Holy Week begins.

American and some German cardinals had argued that the time for discernment should come during the pre-conclave meetings, when there is more time for discussion and information-gathering.

Some Italian media have speculated that with governance such a key issue in this conclave, the cardinals might also be considering an informal Pope-secretary of state “ticket”,a papal appointment responsible for running the Holy See.

That formality brings the number of cardinal electors to 115; two thirds of which or 77 votes is required for victory.

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