Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Cardinals deadlocked in Pope vote

VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MARCH 13:  Black smoke billows from the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel indicating that the College of Cardinals have failed to elect a new Pope on March 13, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI's successor is being chosen by the College of Cardinals in Conclave in the Sistine Chapel. The 115 cardinal-electors, meeting in strict secrecy, will need to reach a two-thirds-plus-one vote majority to elect the 266th Pontiff..  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MARCH 13: Black smoke billows from the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel indicating that the College of Cardinals have failed to elect a new Pope on March 13, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI's successor is being chosen by the College of Cardinals in Conclave in the Sistine Chapel. The 115 cardinal-electors, meeting in strict secrecy, will need to reach a two-thirds-plus-one vote majority to elect the 266th Pontiff.. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Black smoke has billowed from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, meaning cardinals have not elected a pope in their second or third rounds of balloting.

Cardinals voted twice today in Michelangelo's famed frescoed chapel after a first vote yesterday in a conclave to elect a successor to Benedict XVI, who stunned the Catholic world last month by becoming the first pope in 600 years to resign.

His decision threw the church into turmoil and exposed deep divisions among cardinals tasked with finding a manager to clean up a corrupt Vatican bureaucracy as well as a pastor who can revive Catholicism in a time of growing secularism.

The cardinals break for lunch at the Vatican hotel and return for another two rounds of voting this afternoon.

The drama - with stage sets by Michelangelo and an outcome that is anyone's guess - is playing out against the backdrop of the turmoil unleashed by Benedict's surprise retirement and the exposure of deep divisions among cardinals that ensued.

The divisions and the difficulty in finding both attributes in one man, many analysts say, mean that the world should brace for a long conclave - or at least one longer than the four ballots it took to elect Benedict in 2005.

Thousands braved a chilly rain on to watch the 6-foot copper chimney on the chapel roof for the smoke signals telling them whether a new pope has been elected.

After the smoke poured out, the crowds began to dissipate although a few hangers-on appeared ready to wait out the afternoon balloting.

Unlike the confusion that reigned during the 2005 conclave, the smoke this time around has been clearly black - thanks to special smoke flares lit in the chapel ovens to make the burned ballots black.

The cardinals spent the night sequestered in the Vatican's Santa Marta hotel, an impersonal modern hotel on the edge of the Vatican gardens. They have no access to television, newspapers, phones or computers, and all the hotel staff have taken an oath of secrecy to not reveal anything they see or hear.

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