Black smoke after 1st conclave vote
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Cardinals failed to elect a pope after the first round of voting on Wednesday morning, March 13 (Philippine time), in a historic conclave for the 266th leader of the Catholic Church.
Black smoke emerged from the chimney on the Sistine Chapel roof at around 2:40 am on Wednesday (around 7:40 pm on Tuesday, March 12, in Vatican City), indicating that the 115 cardinal electors would need to repeat the voting process.
As the smoke billowed out of the chimney, tens of thousands of onlookers in St Peter's Square cheered in excitement or booed in mock disappointment. (Read: How Vatican produces black, white smoke.)
The eyes of the world will be fixed on the chimney in the coming days for the smoke signals sent out twice daily. White smoke will indicate that a pope has been chosen.
The next time the public can expect smoke is at around 6 pm on Wednesday, and around 1 am on Thursday, March 14. Depending on the outcome of voting, smoke may also emerge an hour or two earlier than expected. (Read: Vatican outlines timetable for conclave to elect pope.)
On Tuesday evening, the cardinal electors locked themselves up in the Sistine Chapel to begin the conclave.
Reenacting a 700-year-old tradition, the cardinal electors entered the Sistine Chapel at around 11:30 pm in the Philippines, or 4:30 pm in Vatican City.
Strictly following John Paul II's decree Universi Dominici Gregis, the cardinals recited prayers for intercession before they elect the next pope.
In a chapel swept for bugs and with jamming devices to block electronic communication, they also took an oath of secrecy. Breaking this oath could mean excommunication from the Catholic Church. (Read: Elaborate rituals to elect 266th pope.)
The scarlet-robed cardinals who will choose the next leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics filed in past Swiss Guards under Michelangelo's famous frescoes of the Last Judgment and God's hand outstretched to Adam.
Unity for Church
Earlier on Tuesday, at a grandiose mass in St Peter's Basilica, the cardinals prayed for unity in the Church – a stark reminder of the infighting that often overshadowed Benedict XVI's 8-year pontificate.
The cardinals burst into thunderous applause when the dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano, publicly thanked the "beloved and venerable" Benedict in his homily.
As the cardinals prepared for the conclave, rainstorms drenched thousands of pilgrims watching the momentous event on 4 giant screens in St Peter's Square.
One barefoot man in a sackcloth habit knelt on the cobblestones in the pouring rain and was joined by another pilgrim who bowed his head in prayer, as a hymn echoed across the square.
The "Princes of the Church" will be cut off from the outside world inside the Vatican walls until they have made their choice in a centuries-old ritual – much of it carried out in Latin. (What's the conclave process? Check Rappler's infographic below.)
– with reports from Paterno Esmaquel II and Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com