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Francis George
Crucial job awaits Cardinal Keeler at papal conclave

When word of Pope Leo XIII's grave illness reached the United States in 1903, Cardinal James Gibbons booked passage on every steamship leaving for Rome, according to his biographers, lest he miss the opportunity to vote for the pope's successor. The Baltimore archbishop had learned the lesson of John McCloskey, a New Yorker and the first American cardinal, who was halfway across the ocean in 1878 when he missed his only chance to take part in the event known as the papal conclave. As he awaits his own ritualized sequestration inside the Sistine Chapel to elect the next pope, Cardinal William H. Keeler - the first Baltimore archbishop since Cardinal Gibbons eligible to vote in the...