The new Pope must save the Catholic Church from waning influence amid the evils of modern society - and may well be an Italian - says Cardinal George Pell, one of the 117 men who will elect a new pontiff next month, reports The Sunday Telegraph.
In an exclusive interview, Cardinal Pell said the vote was "enormously important for the Church".
"If we go under, we surrender to the tides that are breaking up families, decreasing the birth rate, the challenges of alcoholism and drugs and pornography. If we collapse or we wobble disastrously, it won't be for the good of the western world at all," he said.
Cardinal Pell will fly to Rome on Friday, where he will meet other cardinals before being secluded inside the Vatican's Sistine Chapel to choose a replacement for the retiring Pope Benedict.
There are factions - Cardinal Pell describes it as "different schools of thought" - and this will be evident in the discussions among cardinals, although he says the lobbying has not yet begun.
When it comes time for the votes, the cardinals gather in the Sistine Chapel for as long as it takes to reach a two-thirds-plus-one majority.
It's considered bad form for a cardinal to put forward his own name, and there is no short list when voting starts - over a series of votes names are culled until a decision is reached. This will be Cardinal Pell's second conclave vote.
Last time, he wasn't nervous as he cast his vote in an urn atop the altar, beneath Michelangelo's Last Judgment.
"It wasn't as though I was making the decision by myself. The cardinals have experience and leadership. They are seriously religious people - overwhelmingly a wise group, and a group that's lived through a lot," said Cardinal Pell, who will cast Australia's only vote.
Huge job, Pell unlikely to be Pope (Sunday Telegraph)
A chance to heal a wounded church (Daily Telegraph)
Papal election a collision of divine intervention and modern factionalism (Daily Telegraph)