Mexican Cardinals Juan Sandoval Iniguez (L) and Josz Francisco Robles Ortega (R)
Mexican Cardinals Juan Sandoval Iniguez (L) and Josz Francisco Robles Ortega (R)

Roman Catholic cardinals met in Vatican city for a fourth day Thursday to plan the conclave to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI.

One hundred fifteen cardinals eligible to vote were expected to participate in closed-door meetings aimed at setting a date for the conclave, a meeting bound by centuries-old tradition to elect a new pope.

Vietnam's Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man was the last of the cardinals expected to arrive in Rome on Thursday.

Map showing countries which leading contenders to
Map showing countries which leading contenders to be pope represent as well as the electors

The Vatican does not disclose details about the meetings. Vatican officials are concerned that information might have been leaked.

On Wednesday, the Vatican imposed a media blackout on all cardinals following Italian media reports suggesting some cardinals initiated the leaks.

Italian newspapers have speculated that the aim of the blackout was to silence American cardinals, who have been vocal about allegations of corruption and dysfunction within the Curia, the central administration of the Catholic church.

The cardinals have also gathered this week to discuss other questions facing the church.  Among them is last year's "Vatileaks" scandal, in which confidential papal documents that shed light on power struggles inside top levels of the church were leaked to Italian journalists.

Also under discussion is the series of child sex abuse incidents by priests, which have shaken confidence in the church in recent years.

The cardinals, who are sworn to secrecy, will gather in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel for the conclave to vote for a pope.  Cardinals who are 80 or older do not vote.

The Vatican appears to be aiming to have a new pope in place by Easter on March 31.

Pope Benedict resigned last month after nearly eight years in office, becoming the first Roman Catholic Church leader to step down voluntarily in 600 years.  He has pledged obedience to the next pope.