Black smoke emerges from Sistine Chapel in 1st day of conclave, no new pope chosen

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Just before 8 p.m. in Vatican City, black smoke poured from the Sistine Chapel chimney, signaling that cardinals have failed to elect a pope on their first try.

The cardinals held the first day of the conclave Tuesday deeply divided over the problems of the church and who best among them could fix them following the stunning resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. The Vatican made clear it didn't expect a winner on the first ballot.

The cardinals now return to the Vatican's Santa Marta hotel for the night. They return to the Apostolic Palace for Mass Wednesday morning and a new round of voting.

Cardinals filed into the Sistine Chapel Tuesday for the conclave to elect the next pope amid deep divisions and uncertainty over who will lead the 1.2 billion-strong Catholic church and tend to its many problems.

Led by prelates holding a crucifix and candles, the 115 scarlet-robed cardinals chanted the Litany of Saints, the hypnotic Gregorian chant imploring the intercession of the saints to help them choose the next pope. They then took their places in the chapel frescoed by Michelangelo with scenes of "Creation" and "The Last Judgment."

Monsignor Guido Marini, master of liturgical ceremonies, closed the double doors after shouting "Extra omnes," Latin for "all out," telling everyone but those taking part in the conclave to leave the frescoed hall. He then locked it.

Benedict's surprise resignation has thrown the church into turmoil and exposed deep divisions among cardinals grappling with whether to pick a manager who can clean up the Vatican bureaucracy or a pastor who can inspire Catholics at a time of crisis.

Should the Cardinals fail to select a pope after three full days of voting, they will break for a day of prayer and reflection, then resume for another seven ballots.  The first pause will be Saturday if no pope has been selected before that.

Smoke will emerge from the chimney once at the end of each session -- the morning session (about 6 a.m. CST) and the afternoon session (about 1 p.m. CST).  But if an earlier vote yields a pope, white smoke would emerge at that time, ending the conclave.

Once white smoke emerges from the chimney, a bell at the St. Peter's Basilica rings. Within an hour, the man who was selected emerges onto the balcony and his identity is known.

For more on the conclave, visit our special page at http://bit.ly/pope2013.

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