The Catholic Church has new pope as white smoke rises
A church official will announce 'Habemus Papum' -
White smoke seen issuing from the papal conclave at the Sistine Chapel can only mean one thing: The Catholic Church has chosen a new pope. The 115 sequestered cardinals elected a new leader for the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.
Pope Benedict XVI resigned last month, exposing deep divisions among cardinals tasked with finding a new leader. The new leader will be tasked with cleaning up a corrupt Vatican bureaucracy, as well as pastor the church in a time of growing secularism.
Cardinals remained divided over who should be pope on Wednesday after three rounds of voting. This strongly indicates that disagreements remain about the direction of the Catholic Church following the upheaval unleashed by Pope Benedict XVI's surprise resignation.
Previous bouts of black smoke from the Sistine Chapel prompted sighs of disappointment from the thousands of people gathered in a rain-soaked and chilly St. Peter's Square.
"I'm not happy to see black smoke. We all want white," Reverend ThankGod Okoroafor, a Nigerian priest studying theology at Holy Cross University in Rome said. "But maybe it means that the cardinals need to take time, not to make a mistake in the choice."
A winner must receive 77 votes, or two-thirds of the 115, to be named pope.
The papal conclave has rarely before taken place against the backdrop of a papal resignation and revelations of mismanagement, petty bickering, infighting and corruption in the Holy See bureaucracy.
Those revelations, exposed by the leaks of papal documents last year, have divided the College of Cardinals.
After the third ballot, the cardinals broke for lunch at the Vatican hotel and were returning for another two rounds of voting Wednesday afternoon.
The drama - with stage sets by Michelangelo and an outcome that is anyone's guess - is playing out against the backdrop of the church's need both for a manager who can clean up an ungovernable Vatican bureaucracy and a pastor who can revive Catholicism in a time of growing secularism.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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