Black Smoke Signals No Pope On Vatican Conclave’s First Day
Cardinals attend a Mass for the election of a new pope celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Sodano inside St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican yesterday. (Associated Press - Andrew Medichini)
Vatican City (DPA) — The first day of a secretive Vatican conclave ended yesterday with black smoke billowing out of the Sistine Chapel chimney, signaling that cardinals had yet to decide on a new pope.
Smoke emerged shortly after 7:40 p.m. before the large crowd assembled in St. Peter’s Square to watch the spectacle. Giant screens were installed to allow them to have a better view of the small chimney high above them.
The smoke is produced by the burning of the cardinals’ ballots, with chemicals added to alter its color. Whereas black means an inconclusive vote, white smoke is used when a new leader for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics has been elected.
The Catholic Church’s 115 cardinal electors were due to resume voting today, with two rounds in the morning followed by another two in the afternoon. Most Vatican experts expect the process to be completed by week’s end.
While the process is highly secretive, and there are no formal candidates, papal watchers say this election is much more open than the one in 2005 that turned German-born Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger into Pope Benedict XVI after just four rounds of voting.
The shortlist of papabili (papal candidates) includes Italy’s Angelo Scola, Brazil’s Pedro Odilo Scherer, Timothy Dolan of the U. S., Marc Ouellet of Canada, Peter Turkson of Ghana and Leonardo Sandri of Argentina.