Black smoke rises from the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel, meaning… (Vincenzo Pinto / AFP/Getty…)
VATICAN CITY -- Roman Catholic cardinals signaled Wednesday that they had failed to agree on a new pope during the early session of the second day of secret voting inside the Sistine Chapel.
Black smoke rose from a stovepipe above the chapel before noon as ballots from the morning’s vote were burned because no single candidate had won support from at least two-thirds of the 115 cardinals gathered to choose a successor to Benedict XVI.
Thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square under a sea of umbrellas and gave a shout as the smoke poured skyward. In contrast to the previous night, the smoke was slightly more gray than black, leading to some initial confusion.
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Benedict in February became the first pope in six centuries to resign as head of the Roman Catholic Church.
The cardinals were breaking for lunch and a rest and will resume voting Wednesday afternoon.
One voting session on Tuesday and two Wednesday morning have proved inconclusive, meaning that support has not yet coalesced around a single man but remains spread over several candidates. Analysts believe that reflects disagreement over who is best suited to lead the troubled church as it navigates scandals and declining loyalty in some parts of the world.
Much speculation has centered on Angelo Scola, the archbishop of Milan, as a leading contender. But also being mentioned are candidates from Brazil and even the United States, which would give the church its first non-European pope in nearly 1,300 years.
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With few hard facts to go on, the Italian media Wednesday suggested that Brazilian Cardinal Odilo Scherer, thought by many to have substantial support among the cardinals and especially those who work inside the Vatican bureaucracy, may have hurt his chances in a final speech ahead of the conclave.
All 115 of the cardinals, the “princes” of the church, swore an oath of secrecy at the start of the conclave, as the voting sessions are known. Several said ahead of the meeting they hoped for a swift conclave.
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