Black smoke emerges from the chimney of the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel indicating that the 115 cardinals are still undecided.
Black smoke that emerged from the chimney of the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel indicates the cardinals are not decided yet on Benedict’s successor.
The cardinals reconvened for the papal conclave behind closed doors after the first round of voting on Tuesday night proved inconclusive.
They awoke to attend mass in the Pauline Chapel in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace and returned to the Renaissance splendour of the Sistine Chapel to hold two morning ballots.
All eyes remain on the chimney atop the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel as the process of finding a successor to Benedict XVI, who brought a troubled eight-year papacy to an abrupt end by resigning last month, will continue until his replacement is found.
The 115 cardinals spent the night sequestered in the Santa Marta Hotel on the edge of the Vatican’s gardens, without access to television, newspapers, mobile phones or computers.
They first filed into the chapel chamber, renowned for its ceiling fresco painted by Renaissance master Michelangelo, on Tuesday morning to begin their deliberation
A few hours after sunset, black smoke billowed from the chimney above the Vatican, indicating that no-one had gained the two-thirds majority needed to become the 266th pope.
Only the emergence of white smoke – produced by mixing the smoke from burning ballots with special flares – will signal that a new leader for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics has been chosen.
The tens of thousands that braved the rain and gathered in St Peter’s Square to bear witness to the centuries-old tradition cheered in excitement or booed in mock disappointment.
Among the cardinals gathered in Rome, Italy’s Angelo Scola, Brazil’s Odilo Scherer and Canada’s Marc Ouellet – all conservatives like Benedict – are the three favourites.
Modern-day conclaves normally last no more than a few days.
However, there is no clear frontrunner, meaning the election could go on for much longer than the two days and four rounds of voting that it took to elect Joseph Ratzinger in 2005, following the death of John Paul II.
Some analysts think that Benedict’s dramatic departure – the first papal resignation in over 700 years – could push the cardinals to take an equally unusual decision and elect an outsider.
Hopes are high in the Philippines for the popular Archbishop of Manila, Luis Antonio Tagle, and on the African continent for South Africa’s Wilfrid Napier, the archbishop of Durban, but in practice their chances are very slim.