The first ballot held today by the cardinals of the Catholic Church resulted in thick, black smoke — an expected outcome signaling no winner on the first day of ballots.
When a new pope is selected, the smoke coming from the Sistine Chapel will be white. In the past, the first ballot has served as a primary round. It is not a surprise that no pope was elected on the first round, especially because of the high number of cardinals who are eligible to become the next pope. All 115 cardinals are technically candidates, and the new Pope must receive 77 votes (two-thirds) to win.
The cardinals have been staying in seclusion in the Vatican’s Santa Marta residence and will return to the Chapel Wednesday morning. The schedule has two rounds of voting in the morning and two rounds in the evening, as needed.
New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan was optimistic about the outcome of the votes.
“My guess is that we’d have a new Successor of St. Peter by Thursday evening, with a hoped-for inaugural Mass on March 19, the feast of St. Joseph, the patron of the Church Universal, a holiday and Father’s Day here in Italy,” Dolan wrote to his priests in New York. The diocese spokesman confirmed the letter to ABC News.
The cardinals, led by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, an Italian and the senior cardinal present, all swore in Latin to maintain secrecy and obedience to the constitution on papal transition. They also made an oath that if elected they would faithfully carry out the duties of a pope and defend the Holy See, according to the New York Times.
Although the weather during the first ballot was overcast, cold and rainy, the mood in Vatican city is optimistic.