The faithful gather Tuesday in St. Peter’s Square to follow a Mass taking place inside St. Peter’s Basilica on a giant screen, not pictured.
Later in the evening, black smoke billowed from the chimney atop the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel less than 2½ hours after the doors were shut tooutsiders. The dark fumes signified an inconclusive vote to elect the next pope, and a disappointed murmur rose from the crowd of thousands who had assembled in St. Peter’s Square in anticipation.
An immediate agreement on a new pontiff was never likely. But the first vote is always important as a measure of the strength of support for particular candidates. It also lets the cardinals chat and caucus informally at dinner and sleep on the result, to decide in the morning whether to stick to their original choice, switch sides or look for dark-horse alternatives.
What happens in the Sistine Chapel is supposed to stay in the Sistine Chapel; even support staffers attending the 115 cardinals have been sworn to silence on pain of excommunication.
Whoever is chosen by at least a two-thirds majority — 77 votes in this case — will become the 266th pope, succeeding Benedict XVI, whose resignation last month threw the Catholic Church into uncertainty.
— Los Angeles Times