Black smoke again: No new pope yet
MANILA, Philippines – Black smoke emerged from the Sistine Chapel at around 6:40 pm (Philippine time) on Wednesday, March 13, indicating that the 115 cardinal electors have failed to elect the 266th leader of the Catholic Church.
This means the cardinals will have to repeat the voting process for the successor of Benedict XVI. The next two rounds of voting will be held beginning 11 pm Wednesday (Philippine time).
If a pope is not elected in the first of these two ballots, the Vatican said the public should expect smoke from the Sistine Chapel chimney at around 2:30 am on Thursday (Philippine time). Otherwise, smoke could emerge an hour or two earlier.
The conclave began at around 11:30 pm on Tuesday, March 12 (Philippine time), with an elaborate ritual that involved invoking the help of the Holy Spirit.
Catholics believe the selection of the pope is divinely inspired. Human factors, however, play a significant role in the 700-year-old tradition. (Read: When mortals elect a pope.)
Vatican observers expect the conclave to last less than a week. (See Rappler's infographic below.)
Meanwhile, on a rainy Wednesday in Rome, the faithful huddled in suspense under umbrellas in front of the basilica, waiting for the first vote of the day and hoping for white smoke from the Sistine Chapel's chimney, signifying that cardinals had chosen a pontiff.
Several thousand people gathered, but it was far from as full as Tuesday evening, when the cardinals held their first inconclusive vote.
Some of the faithful knelt to pray, others sat on camping chairs and read aloud passages from the Bible.
"It's the first time I've travelled to the Vatican to see a conclave, but I really felt this time more than any other that the world needs the hope a good pope would bring us," said 71-year-old Brazilian priest Giuseppe Almaida.
"I hope whoever is elected takes the name Clementine, because in this world of wars, suffering and sadness we need clemency," said Almaida, wearing a Brazil baseball cap to show support for Brazilian cardinal Odilo Scherer, tipped as a possible pope.
Sheltered from the rain under the balustrades surrounding the square, many families and pilgrims said they had come at daybreak to snag the best view of the Sistine Chapel chimney and had brought picnics to get them through the day. – with reports from Paterno Esmaquel II and Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com