Black smoke signal: No new pope yet from first papal conclave vote

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Roman Catholic cardinals will continue to search on Wednesday for a new spiritual leader for the world’s 1.2 billion baptised Catholics after black smoke poured from the chimney above the Sistine Chapel tonight, signalling they had failed to elect a new pope on the first ballot.

Shortly after 5.30pm in Rome, the papal master of ceremonies, Guido Marini, drew shut the doors of the Sistine Chapel, locking inside the “princes of the church” who are to elect a pope great enough to lead his church out of the maze of scandal and controversy into which it stumbled during the strife-torn reign of former Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned last month.

After listening to a homily by one of their number, the Maltese Augustinian, Prosper Grech, the cardinals held at least one ballot. But black smoke issuing from the chimney above the chapel two hours later showed that none of the cardinals had obtained the necessary two-thirds majority.

The cardinals now return to the Vatican’s Santa Marta hotel for the night. They return to the Apostolic Palace for Mass on Wednesday morning and a new round of voting.

 

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