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No Pope Yet: Black Smoke Rises After Morning Votes On Day 2 Of Conclave

Update at 6:41 a.m. ET. The Smoke Is Black:

Smoke just started pouring from a special chimney above the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City — and its dark color means the 115 cardinals meeting inside the chapel have not yet agreed on a successor to Pope Benedict XVI.

If all has gone as planned inside the chapel, where the cardinals are meeting in secret, they have now cast three ballots and no one name has been written on at last two-thirds of the slips of paper. It takes two-thirds — 77 votes — to become leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

The cardinals are expected to gather again Wednesday afternoon. They would then vote up to twice more before adjourning until Thursday.

Our original post — "Day 2 Of The Conclave; Will There Be A New Pope?"

Catholics around the world are watching the roof of the Vatican again to learn if their church has a new pope.

Tuesday, on Day 1 of the conclave of cardinals, ended with black smoke pouring from a special chimney atop the Vatican — the sign that on their first vote, two-thirds of the 115 cardinals had not agreed on a single candidate to succeed the now-retired Pope Benedict XVI.

Another smoke signal is expected at midday in Rome (early morning on the East Coast of the U.S.). The cardinals, if all goes as planned, will have voted at least once and possibly twice Wednesday morning. Again, if no one name has been written on at least 77 of the votes cast, we'll see black smoke. After their midday break for lunch, the cardinals would then reconvene in the afternoon and try again with up to two more votes.

If someone has gotten two-thirds support, the smoke should be white and the Vatican's bells should start ringing.

The Vatican is streaming a live video feed, which most of the time is focused on that chimney.

How long might it take to choose a pope? Vatican Radio records show that it took 4 ballots over 2 days for cardinals to select Benedict in 2005. In 1978, the cardinals spent 3 days and cast 8 ballots before making John Paul II the pope. The longest conclave in recent history was the 5-day, 14-ballots gathering that ended with the selection of Pope Pius XI in 1922.

We'll keep an eye on developments.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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