New pope elected; white smoke above Sistine Chapel
White smoke is billowing out of the chimney from the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel, signaling the Roman Catholic Church now has a new pope.
Vatican officials say that man will be introduced on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica in less than an hour. The bells of the basilica also are tolling.
The release of white smoke and the sound of church bells signals not only that a man has been elected pope, but that he has accepted the role, chosen a name and donned his white vestments. Before meeting the world, he will stop in the Vatican’s Pauline Chapel to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. Each cardinal also will greet him individually,
Unless he's the pope, French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, senior cardinal deacon, will shout “Habemus Papam!” or “We have a pope!” from the loggia. The pope will appear and give his first papal blessing to those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
The 115 cardinal electors entered into conclave on Tuesday. To become pope, a candidate needed to garner at least 77 votes.
Most of the cardinal-electors have been in Rome since Feb. 28, when Pope Benedict XVI became the first pope to resign in more than 600 years.
Speculation has abounded about what direction the cardinals will choose to go with this election. Many of the cardinals have expressed concern about the governance of the church. Others have talked about the need for a charismatic pastor as the church tries to win back disaffected Catholics and overcome the worldwide effects of sex abuse scandals involving clergy.