ROME (CBS4) – Black smoke billowed out of a chimney atop the famed Sistine Chapel on Tuesday afternoon signaling to the world that a new pontiff had not been selected after the first papal conclave vote.
The 115 cardinals who cast ballots started their day with a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. After lunch in their quarters they headed to the Sistine Chapel to begin the voting process.
Voting during the conclave is a slow process, according to “All Things Catholic”. After a cardinal makes his decision, he proceeds to the alter under Michelangelo’s fresco of the Last Judgment and places his ballot into a chalice.
“The fact of the matter is they’re standing right in front of that Last Judgment, you know, heaven and hell and Christ in the middle, and saying in conscience ‘I am voting for the person I believe to be best for the job,” Greg Burke, a Vatican communications advisor told CBS4’s Michele Gillen.
Once all the ballots are cast, three cardinals count all the votes. Then three different cardinals check the count to make sure the first was accurate. All in all, one round of balloting can take more than an hour to complete. The ballots are then burned.
If two-thirds of the ballots are cast for one candidate, white smoke will billow from the smokestack alerting the faithful outside that a new pope has been selected. If there is black smoke, it indicates there was no consensus and another vote will be taken.
No other votes are scheduled for Tuesday. The next vote will take place Wednesday. it is unlikely that the conclave will go on more than a few days. Except for the first day, when only one round of balloting took place, cardinals will vote twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon until a pope is chosen.