No pope yet, as papal conclave begins

Mar 12, 2013 | News

Photo courtesyVeronidae via Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy Veronidae via Wikimedia Commons

By Amber Daugherty
With files from Alex Fuller

The entire world is watching the Vatican as 115 cardinals move through the process of electing a new Pope.

Tuesday was the first day of the conclave, and it yielded no results. Black smoke coming from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel signified a pope had not been chosen in the conclave’s first ballot.

The smoke is the traditional way to announce the result of the process to the people. After the ballots from each vote are counted, they are burned in an oven, with chemicals added to change the colour of the smoke. If the smoke is white, there is a new pope.

The conclave began on Tuesday when the cardinals entered the Sistine Chapel where they will carry out the centuries-old tradition of deciding the new leader of the Roman Catholic faith.

It’s expected the process will only take a few days, although experts note this is a recent trend.

“It’s been streamlined in more recent years,” Martin Greig, associate history professor at Ryerson University, told Radio Humber on Tuesday.

“There have been some new rules introduced as late as 1996 that have all been designed to speed up the process,” he said.

That process follows strict guidelines, which are outlined in the Book of the Rites of the Conclave. The senior Cardinal in the hierarchy presided over a liturgical event Tuesday, which included a prayer and then leading the procession into the chapel.

Once inside, the cardinals all recite an oath of secrecy during the process before the voting begins. On Tuesday, the master of liturgical ceremonies shouted “extra omnes,” Latin for “all out” before closing the Sistine Chapel’s wooden doors.

“You get the sense of consistency – that Rome doesn’t change very much,” Terence Fay, professor of history of religion at the University of Toronto’s school of theology, told Radio Humber.

“It hasn’t changed much in 2000 years. What’s been done in the past is being done now.”

Wednesday begins days of voting twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon. The idea is to continue voting until one person has the required two-thirds – 77 of 115 – of the votes.

And no one else is allowed inside until someone has been chosen.

“The idea is they’re not supposed to be influenced by any outside commentary or outside politicking,” Greig said. “The idea is just to focus and concentrate on trying to choose the next pope.”

Fay compared the silence to Canadian ministers.

“You know how our cabinet ministers and caucuses keep some things to themselves when they’re sorting out some new information?” Fay said. “The cardinals are praying to the holy spirit for help and not to be swayed by the media or other people who maybe would like to have their own choice.”

Canadian Cardinal Marc Oullet is one of the possible contenders for the position. Though other cardinals have better odds, Fay said it would make sense if he was chosen.

“He certainly is a very forceful person, a very learned person, a person who is in touch with south America,” he said. “He speaks Spanish. He’s a good linguist and fits very well in various cultures.”

A conclave traditionally happens following the death of the current pope. This circumstance is rare; Pope Benedict XVI resigned early last month due to old age and health reasons. This is the first time in 598 years that a pope has resigned. The last time it happened was in 1415.

The word conclave comes from the Latin “cum” and “clavis” which translates to “locked with the key” and hints at the secretive process in which the new pope is elected.

Many people around the world are watching to see who the new pope will be.

The Vatican has been faced with scandals recently, and Cardinal Angelo Scola is considered to be Italy’s best chance at reclaiming the papacy after 35 years of leadership by first a Pole and then a German.

There is speculation that someone from America or Africa may win. One hundred years ago two-thirds of the world’s Catholics were European, but today that has changed to only 15 per cent.

Papal Contenders

International bookmakers are betting on who the next pope will be. compiled odds from 13 bookies, and the New York Times coverted those into probabilities based on the top 25 contenders. The percentages are listed below some of the top contenders.