Black smoke signals no pope elected at first conclave vote

Black smoke rises from the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City indicating that no decision has been made after the first day of voting for the election of a new pope, March 12, 2013. REUTERS-Dylan Martinez

Black Smoke Appeared At Sistine Chapel Chimney

With a thick puff of black smoke from the Sistine Chapel’s chimney, day one of the conclave on Tuesday ends with no conclusive first vote in the conclave to elect a new pope at a time when the Roman Catholic Church really need a leader. The smoke came at 2:41 p.m. U.S. Eastern time leaving the church’s 115 cardinals to meet Wednesday morning to vote for the second day to elect a pope needing at least 77 votes to elect a new pope. There will be up to four votes per day until a pope is elected. If a new pope is elected, white smoke will be released from the Sistine Chapel at 5:30 a.m. (10:30 a.m. Italy), 7 a.m., 12:30 a.m. or 2 p.m. and if no pope is elected then black smoke will rise from the chapel at 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. Times may vary and times are estimated based on previous elections and predictions. The new pope must accept the position before the white smoke is released and as promised if the smoke is released at night then the Sistine Chapel chimney will be lit for onlookers to see the smoke as it was on Tuesday. Of course, as stipulated, if no pope is elected by Friday then the cardinals will pause Saturday for reflection and prayers thus continuing the voting pattern until 34th voting round which will lead to a runoff between top candidates. Once the white smoke is released, the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica will ring as in 2005 and the senior cardinal deacon, French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, will stand on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica shouting “Habemus Papam!” (“We have a new pope!”) then present the new pope with his white papal cassocks to give his first blessing as pope. Thousands watched in St. Peter’s Square as the black smoke poured out of the narrow flue in the rain following a day rich in ritual and pageantry.

After prayer for divine guidance, the cardinals took an oath in Latin to never divulge any details of their deliberation before they secluded themselves behind the chapel’s heavy wooden doors. No conclave in modern times has elected a pope the first day and some cardinals believe it could take four or five days to pick a man to replace the recently retired Pope Benedict. The “Princes of the Church” will spend the night in a Vatican hotel then begin day two of voting in the Sistine Chapel on Wednesday with two rounds of voting one in the morning and two in the afternoon. Voting will continue until a new pontiff is appointed and communication with the outside world will be smoke from the Chapel chimney indicated by black smoke when the voting sessions end with no result and white smoke when a pontiff is elected. Whom ever becomes the 266th pontiff of the Catholic church in its 2,000 year history will face several challenges including sex abuse scandals, infighting within the Vatican bureaucracy and the secularism in its European heartland and beyond. No clear cut contenders have emerged since some want a stronger manager to control the Curia and others calling for a powerful pastor to promote faith around the world. The doors of the Sistine Chapel were closed at 5:34 p.m. after the master of ceremonies, Guido Marini, said “Extra Omnes” or “Everyone Out” asking those no associate with the gathering to leave the room except Maltese Cardinal Prosper Grech, an 87 year old who is too old to participate in the vote, who gave a sermon to remind the 115 cardinal electors of their responsibility.

The faithful gathered in Rome in hopes that a new leader would bring change after a difficult eight year reign by Pope Benedict. As Maria Dasdores Paz, a Brazilian nun who attended the Mass explains to Reuters that the new pope “must be a great pastor with a big heart, and also have the capacity to confront the Church’s problems, which are very great…Every day there seem to be more.” All of the prelates in the Sistine Chapel were appointed by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI or Pope John Paul II and the next pope will certainly defend the traditional moral teachings of the church, but many point out the failures of Benedict and Paul to reform the Curia leaving many feeling that the next pope must be a good chief executive or have good management put in place under him. Several papal candidate have been discussed including Italian and non-Italian prelates with growing pressure to choose a pontiff from somewhere else in the world since only 24 percent of Catholics live in Europe. Only time will tell if the next pope will live up to the position or falter in one respect or another as popes before him have.

Pope Benedict’s Last Sunday Blessing From Window Draws 100,000 (PHOTOS) (VIDEO)

Pope Benedict’s Last Sunday Blessing From Window Draws 100,000 (PHOTOS) (VIDEO).

In these uncertain times we live in, no one can deny the powerful symbolism the pope has for millions of people around the world whether he leaves the world forever or with a heavy heart he is undeniably a symbol to the world. People can say whatever they want but that will never make people stop believing in something more and something bigger than ourselves. In a crowd of hundred thousand one girl stood out with a sign hoist above her head reading in Italian,””You are not alone, I’m also with you” that speaks to the true power of faith something that cannot waiver in truth or be denied by the world. On Sunday, the pope gave his final blessing on a cheering crowd in St. Peter’s Square explaining that his aging and health made him better suited for private prayer than to be the leader of the church. On Thursday, he will be the first pope in 600 years to resign from the papacy. Ten of thousands of the faithful have already asked for a seat in the square for his last general audience Wednesday as he gave his Sunday’s blessing from his studio window overlooking St. Peter’s Square. Benedict seemed relaxed and energized by the crowd’s emotional welcome, applause, and many banners of Thanks held by the crowd. He told the crowd that God called him to dedicate himself to prayer and meditation which he will do in a renovated monastery in the Vatican. Of his approaching departure from the papacy, Benedict said,”But this doesn’t mean abandoning the church…On the contrary, if God asks me, this is because I can continue to serve it (the church) with the same dedication and the same love which I have tried to do so until now, but in a way more suitable to my age and to my strength.” Benedict explained that,”Prayer is not isolating oneself from the world and its contradictions” as he heard God’s call to prayer “which gives breath to our spiritual life” in a special way “at this moment of my life.” As the crowd continued to cheer, the pontiff turned away from his window and stepped down into the apartment. On Thursday, he will be taking a helicopter to the Vatican summer residence outside Rome while he awaits the completion of renovations on the monastery where he will live according to the Associated Press. No date has been set for the conclave of cardinals who will vote in secret on Benedict’s successor. According to the Associated Press one Portuguese priest in the crowd, Rev, Vilmar Pavesi said, “Now there will be two popes. There will be the pope of Rome, the elected pope, and there will be the bishop emeritus of Rome, who will live the life of a monk inside the Vatican walls.” Flags from many nations were represented in the crowd with a large number from Brazil. Benedict in one of his last tweets wrote in English Sunday that, “In these momentous days, I ask you to pray for me and for the church, trusting as always in divine providence.”