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Sources: Conclave To Elect New Pope Likely To Begin March 11

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Pope Benedict XVI waves to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square during his final general audience on February 27, 2013 (Credit: Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

Pope Benedict XVI waves to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square during his final general audience on February 27, 2013 (Credit: Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

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ROME (CBS) - The conclave to elect a new pope to lead the Catholic Church will likely begin on March 11, sources tell CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine.

Sources believe there are enough votes among the cardinals to set that date, and an official announcement could come as early as Thursday.

On Wednesday, the Vatican shut down communication between the cardinals and the media. There were concerns about leaks of confidential proceedings reported in Italian newspapers.

Up to then, the American cardinals, including Cardinal George, had been made available to the media and provide updates on the ongoing meetings at the Vatican.

The cardinals have been meeting since last week in an effort to set a date to elect a successor to Pope Benedict, who resigned on Feb. 28.

He was the first pope to resign in more than 600 years.

The Sistine Chapel, where the cardinals will eventually meet to make their decision on a successor to Pope Benedict, was closed Tuesday to prepare for the conclave.

At the last conclave in 2005, it took seven days to transform the historic chapel to a papal polling place, with desks for voting cardinals on raised platforms down each side.

The Vatican also wants to make sure there are no electronic listening devices either inside or able to penetrate from the outside.

Burners and stoves were also brought in. One will burn the ballots after counting and recording, another will generate, with the use of chemicals, the black (no) or white (yes) smoke which will tell the world whether that ballot has produced a pope.

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