Conclave to elect next Pope started today, suspense for the white smoke
The process of selecting the next pope has began, 115 eligible cardinals are set to decide who will become the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church.
The "Pro- Eligendo" Mass opened the conclave this morning while Cardinal Sodano in his homily expressed again cardinals' deep gratitude to Benedict XVI for his "brilliant" pontificate. Cardinals will enter the SistineChapel this afternoon at 4:30. They will swear an oath of secrecy followed by the first ballot, but no white smoke is expected today.
Pro - eligendo Mass - The St Peter's Church was overcrowded with cardinals, archbishops, bishops around the altar sitting in the first rows, and then behind them, priests, nuns and a crowd of catholic observants. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's private secretary Monsignor Georg Gaenswein was sitting in the first row.
Sodano : "Thanks to Ratzinger for his brilliant pontificate." During the Pro- Eligendo Mass, Cardinal Sodano praised " the beloved and venerated Benedict XVI luminous papacy, to whom we would like to renew our thanks at this time."
" May the Lord grant us a Pontiff who will embrace this noble mission with a generous heart" Cardinal Sodano said, concluding his homely.
Suspence for the first smoke. After the " extra omnes" order, which means that cardinals voters only and nobody else, are allowed to stay inside the Sistine Chapel, the entire world will be watching the chimney installed atop the Sistine Chapel, which will relese smoke black or white, to signify whether a new pope has been elected or not.
As current director of Holy See Press Office FatherFederico Lombardi explained, two stoves are installed in the Sistine Chapel, one is used to burn cardinals' votes after they are cast, the other is used to send up smoke to signal the results, the smokes will be sent up twice a day at 12p.m. and at 7 in the evening. In case of white smoke, also church bells will ring, from the release of the white smoke, it will take about 40 minutes to listen to the official announcement " Habemus Papam."