More black smoke over Vatican: No decision on pope - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

More black smoke over Vatican: No decision on pope

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By Alastair Jamieson, Staff writer, NBC News

VATICAN CITY – Black smoke rose above the Sistine Chapel on Wednesday, signaling that 115 Roman Catholic cardinals had failed to agree on a new pope during the second day of the papal conclave.

The "princes of the church" have been deliberating inside the Vatican since swearing an oath of secrecy and entering the papal conclave at about 5 p.m. local time (12 p.m. ET) on Tuesday.

They will now continue their discussions on Wednesday afternoon.

The smoke, which was seen at about 11:45 a.m. local time (6:30 a.m. ET)  was created by the burning of ballot papers used by the cardinals in their deciding vote, with chemical cartridges being added to ensure the smoke did not appear to be white - a sign that a decision has been reached.

The move follows the abdication of Pope Benedict XVI on Feb. 28.

Shut off from the outside world without access to phones or television, the cardinals spent the night in their accommodation at Casa Santa Marta before returning to the Sistine Chapel Wednesday.

As the conclave got under way Tuesday, the cardinals' electronic devices were jammed to prevent any communication with the outside world. They will convene again on Wednesday. NBC's Anne Thompson reports.

Voting in silence, the cardinals are believed to have held two inconclusive ballots Tuesday morning.

Despite sometimes torrential rain, hundreds of tourists were milled around in St. Peter's Square with an eye on the chimney, which is located to the right of the main basilica of St Peter. A television screen showing the chimney was also on show.

"We feel the world watching at this exciting time for the church," said Father Peter Verity, English priest and spiritual director of Rome's Beda College, in his homily at Mass at the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Wall early Wednesday.

'Hairs standing on end'
Among the dawn worshippers in the congregation were visiting pilgrims Julie Knight, 50, from Indianapolis, and her husband Karl.

"There's a real sense of occasion in the city," she said. "I can feel my hairs standing on end, it's an incredible feeling."

The smoke is created by the burning of ballot papers used by the cardinals in their deciding vote, with chemical cartridges being added to ensure the smoke appears either black or white — in the latter case, a sign that a decision has been reached.

None of the 115 cardinals will be seen or heard, nor will they have any contact with the outside world, until they have chosen a successor to Benedict XVI, who abdicated on Feb. 28.

"They're on their own now," said NBC News Vatican expert George Weigel, referring to the total isolation demanded by church rules.

On purpose and by chance, Americans join crowd in St. Peter's Square to watch for signs of a newly elected pope.

Shortly after Tuesday's conclave began there was a brief drama in St Peter's Square when semi-naked Ukrainian feminists with the words "pope no more" written on their chests and backs staged a protest before being tackled by police and detained.

The word "conclave" comes from the Latin meaning "with key". It is a church tradition that began in 1268 when local officials became so fed up with the lack of a decision among cardinals — they had deliberated for more than two years — that they locked them away with limited food and water to enco

Such is the importance of secrecy that Vatican officials have installed jamming devices to prevent the use of cellphones by cardinals or hidden microphones by anyone wanting to hear their deliberations.

No conclave has lasted more than five days in the past century, with most finishing within two or three days. Pope Benedict XVI was elected within barely 24 hours in 2005 after just four rounds of voting.

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