Black smoke over Vatican as morning fails to bring new pope

Black smoke over Vatican as morning fails to bring new pope

Black smoke over Vatican as morning fails to bring new pope

Black smoke rises from the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel. REUTERS photo

Cardinals 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

Archbishop of Milan, a springboard to the papacy

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