Plinio Lepri  /  AP
Workers install the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican on Friday.
updated 4/15/2005 8:55:27 AM ET 2005-04-15T12:55:27

Workers scaled the roof of the Sistine Chapel on Friday and attached the chimney pipe that will bellow white smoke to alert the world that a new pope has been elected, as the Vatican made final preparations for next week’s conclave.

Attached by a safety clip and cable, a worker climbed down the tiled roof and uncapped a small top that had covered the chimney. He replaced it with a tall, thin pipe fed to him by another man in dress pants and a tie who was standing in an opening in the chapel’s sloped roof.

The conclave begins Monday. Starting that afternoon, the cardinals will send up smoke signals from the burned ballot papers of the vote to indicate whether they have found a successor to Pope John Paul II. Black smoke means no pope has been elected; white smoke signals a new pope.

The preparations for the balloting came as the College of Cardinals, who are running the church in the absence of a pope, held their second-to-last meeting before the conclave.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the 138 cardinals present spent the entire meeting discussing the problems of the church in the world. Cardinals who headed Vatican congregations and councils also discussed problems in their offices, he said.

Later Friday, housekeepers, bus drivers, technicians and other people who will have access to the cardinals during the conclave take their oath of secrecy. The list includes elevator operators who will ferry the cardinals, chefs who will cook for them, doctors who will care for them if they fall ill and priests who will hear their confessions.

The penalties for violating the oath are severe: excommunication.

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