The 115 Roman Catholic cardinals charged with selecting a new pope to lead the world's 1.2 billion Catholics cast their first votes Tuesday and continued their secret deliberations, signaling with black smoke from the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City that they were not finished.
The voting will continue until a candidate receives a two-thirds majority among the cardinal electors. At that time, the selection of a new pope will be announced to the public with white smoke from the Sistine Chapel and the ringing of the bells of St. Peter's Basilica.
The new leader selected will become the 266th pope and succeed Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned Feb. 28.
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Vatican watchers expect a pope to be named within two or three days. No papal conclave of the past century has lasted more than five days.
Earlier Tuesday, the cardinals attended a special Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, during which Cardinal Angelo Sodano exhorted his fellow prelates to rally around whomever the conclave elects.
“St. Paul teaches that each of us must work to build up the unity of the church,” Sodano said. “Each of us is therefore called to cooperate with the successor of Peter.”
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