Black smoke over Vatican as morning fails to bring new pope
VATICAN CITY - Reuters
Black smoke rises from the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel. REUTERS photoCardinals in secret conclave failed twice on Wednesday morning to elect a new pope, as black smoke over the Sistine Chapel showed ballots on the first full day of voting were inconclusive.
After an inconclusive first vote on Tuesday night, the 115 cardinal electors should hold another two ballots later on Wednesday after praying for inspiration from God for a choice that can lead the Roman Catholic Church out of crisis.
Having spent the night closeted in a nearby guesthouse, the cardinals attended Mass in the Pauline Chapel in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace and returned to the Renaissance splendour of the Sistine Chapel to hold the two morning ballots.
They face a tough task in finding one of their number capable of facing a string of scandals and internal strife which are thought to have contributed to Pope Benedict's decision in February to become the first pontiff in 600 years to resign.
A chimney above the chapel, where the cardinals are meeting beneath Michelangelo's luminous fresco of the Last Judgment, will signal a decision with white smoke. More black smoke will indicate no choice has been made.
With several leading candidates, or "papabili", the cardinals are unlikely to reach a decision on who will lead the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics before Wednesday afternoon, with many experts forecasting white smoke to emerge on Thursday.
"A new pope by tomorrow," was the headline in Wednesday's La Stampa newspaper after days of feverish speculation about the most likely new pontiff in Italian media.
Favourite candidates to become next pope
Angelo SCOLA / 71 - Italy
A cerebral expert on morality and bioethics
Familiar with Islam as head of a foundation for Muslim- Christian understanding
Odilo SCHERER / 63 - Brazil
Archbishop of Sao Paulo, the biggest diocese in the country
Conservative, but would rank as a moderate elsewhere
Growth of Protestant churches in Brazil could count against him
Marc OUELLET / 68 - Canada
Vatican’s head of the Congregation for Bishops
A theologian and well connected within the Curia and in Latin America
Secularism of his Quebec could hurt him
Sean O'Malley / 68 - USA
The “clean hands” candidate if cardinals make settling the sexual abuse crisis a top priority
Sold off archdiocesan properties to pay damages and closed down little-used churches
Timothy DOLAN / 63 - USA
Archbishop of New York and head of the U.S. bishops
His humor and dynamism impress many in the Vatican, and attract cardinals who want a strong manager
Leonardo SANDRI / 69 - Argentina
Born in Buenos Aires to Italian parents
Vatican chief of staff in 2000-2007
Often seen as an ideal Secretary of State Head of Vatican’s department for Eastern Churches
Luis TAGLE / 55 - Philippines
Archbishop of Manila, has a charisma often compared to that of the late Pope John Paul
Became close to Pope Benedict while working with him on a Vatican theologians commission
Peter ERDO / 60 - Hungary
Ranks as a prime compromise option if the cardinals fail to elect an Italian
Head of a European bishops council for two terms
Strong links with African church leaders
Christoph SCHOENBORN / 68 - Austria
Archbishop of Vienna, and a former student of Pope Benedict
Criticised the Vatican’s handling of the crisis and backed cautious reforms, including more respect for gay Catholics
Peter TURKSON / 64 - Ghana
Africa’s leading candidate
Head of the Vatican justice and peace bureau
Spokesman for the church’s social conscience and backs world financial reform
Joao Braz de AVIZ / 65 - Brazil
Took over the Vatican department for religious congregations in 2011
Backs support for the poor in Latin America’s liberation theology
Entered a minor seminary in 1958
Gianfranco RAVASI / 70 - Italy
Vatican culture minister and represents the Church to the worlds of art, science, culture and even to atheists
A brilliant preacher and writer
He tweets in English, chats in Italian