Black smoke has billowed from the Sistine Chapel’s chimney, indicating that cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church have not chosen a new pope on their first day in the Vatican conclave.
The secret vote for the selection of the next pontiff got underway on Tuesday morning when 115 red-clad Roman Catholic cardinals secluded themselves behind the chapel’s heavy wooden doors that shut at 5:34 p.m. local time (1634 GMT).
On Tuesday night, thick black smoke billowed from the chimney of the chapel, meaning that cardinals had failed to elect the new pope.
White smoke will rise from the chimney and the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica will peal if a pontiff is chosen.
The prelates will remain completely isolated from the outside world until they elect a new pope.
The cardinal electors will meet on Wednesday morning again. They will vote four times every day until 77 of them agree on a single candidate.
Thousands of people gathered at St. Peter’s Square to watch the smoke rise from the narrow flue. Many shrieked in joy as the black smoke appeared.
The vote was precipitated by the unexpected abdication of Benedict XVI on February 28.
On February 11, the 85-year-old spiritual leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics announced his decision to step down since he was no longer able to carry out his duties due to his advanced age.
Citing unnamed sources, a recent report by the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, however, said that the pontiff decided to resign after an internal church probe informed him about a series of blackmails, grafts and underground gay sex in the Vatican.
There is no clear frontrunner to take over from Benedict.
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