Chicago's Cardinal Francis George and 114 other Roman Catholic prelates filed into the Sistine Chapel today, placed their hand on the Book of Gospels, and took the oath of secrecy that guards the conclave to elect the next pope.

Each cardinal pledged to uphold the secrecy of the conclave and, if elected pope, "to affirm and defend strenuously the spiritual and temporal rights and the liberty of the Holy See."

"We promise and swear to observe with the greatest fidelity and with all persons, clerical or lay, secrecy regarding everything that in any way relates to the election of the Roman Pontiff and regarding what occurs in the place of the election, directly or indirectly related to the results of the voting," each cardinal pledged in Latin.

George and the other American cardinal-electors loaded their black rollaway suitcases into a van and boarded a bus at Pontifical North American College this morning to move into Casa Santa Marta.

Alluding to the wide field of candidates, George's spokeswoman Colleen Dolan said the cardinal wasn't sure it would be a quick conclave.

mbrachear@tribune.com

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