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AP, BBC TWITTER

Worldcrunch

VATICAN CITY - In a solemn ceremony, 115 cardinal-electors gathered in Rome to choose the new Pope celebrated the traditional pre-conclave mass on Tuesday morning just hours before entering the Sistine Chapel to cast their first ballots for the next pontiff.

The surprise resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the first in more than six centuries, adds additional intrigue to this conclave, as cardinals must find amongst themselves a new leader to both reform Vatican management and rekindle the faith of the 1.2 billion Catholics around the world.

Footage of the pre-conclave mass - Source: BBC News

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who at 85 is too old to vote in the conclave, gave the homily in his role of Dean of the College of Cardinals that called for unity in choosing and following the successor of Benedict.

The AP reported one of the offertory prayers during the Mass read: “Let us pray for the cardinals who are to elect the Roman pontiff...May the Lord fill them with his Holy Spirit with understanding and good counsel, wisdom and discernment.”

Thousands of pilgrims, tourists and journalists waited in line to get inside St. Peter's Basilica for the ceremony.

#conclave Waiting for The Mass pro eligendo Pontifice, people in St. Peter Square twitter.com/Tornielli/stat…

— Andrea Tornielli (@Tornielli) March 12, 2013

An understated media presence at the Vatican #nbcpope @ Piazza San Pietro instagr.am/p/WwPcwCHUw4/

— Alastair Jamieson (@alastairjam) March 12, 2013

The “Mass Pro Eligendo Pontifice” began at 10 a.m. local time with Roman Catholic cardinals preparing to choose a new pope.

March of the Cardinals into San Pietro mass before conclave start. One will be pope this week. twitter.com/ereguly/status…

— Eric Reguly (@ereguly) March 12, 2013

"Señor Nuestro, Dános un Pastor Santo que ilumine a tu pueblo" bit.ly/YJwq1p#InicioCónclavetwitter.com/Catholic_Net/s…

— Catholic.net (@Catholic_Net) March 12, 2013

Lord, give us a Holy Pastor to enlighten Your people

Although a large number of worshippers had congregated outside the basilica from early morning -- tickets to the mass being allocated on a first-come, first-served basis -- St. Peter’s Square was soon deserted as blue sky gave way to hail, heavy rain and thunder.

Thunder and lightning in St Peter's Square as the Mass continues in the Basilica #conclave2013 @bbcradiowalestwitter.com/alunth/status/…

— AlunThomas (@alunth) March 12, 2013

Hail stone pounds Rome as Conclave mass goes on. One lady says "maybe its god saying he doesn't like first choice" twitter.com/skynewsmichell…

— Michelle Clifford (@skynewsmichelle) March 12, 2013

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Society

Mahsa Amini, Martyr Of An Iranian Regime Designed To Abuse Women

The 22-year-old is believed to have been beaten to death at a Tehran police station last week after "morality police" had reprimanded her clothing. The case has sparked the nation's outrage. But as ordinary Iranians testify, such beatings, torture and a home brand of misogyny are hallmarks of the 40-year Islamic Republic of Iran.

Mahsa Amini

Firouzeh Nordstrom

-Analysis-

TEHRAN — The death in Iran of a 22-year-old Mahsa Amini — after she was arrested by the so-called "morality police" — has unleashed another wave of protests, as thousands of Iranians vent their fury against an intrusive and violent regime. Indeed, as tragically exceptional as the circumstances appear, the reaction reflects the daily reality of abuse by authorities, especially directed toward women.

Amini, a Kurdish-Iranian girl visiting Tehran with relatives, was detained by the regime's morality patrols on Sept. 13, apparently for not respecting the Islamic dress code that includes proper use of the hijab headscarf. Amini was declared dead two or three days after being taken into custody. Officials say she fainted and died, and blamed a preexisting heart condition. But neither her family nor anyone else in Iran believe that, as can be seen in the mounting protests that have now left at least three dead.

For Amini's was hardly the first arbitrary arrest, or the first suspected death in custody under Iran's Islamic regime.

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