(Photo: Reuters/Tony Gentile)
Catholic cardinals gathered Tuesday before they retired behind the closed doors of the Sistine Chapel. The process of selecting who will lead the world's 1.2 billion Catholics took place, with black smoke indicating that they have not yet selected the new Pope.
Because the cardinals could not come to an agreement Tuesday, puffs of black smoke were seen from the chapel's chimney- the black smoke signaled a failed vote, and eventually, white smoke will signal that a pope has been chosen. All of the cardinal's ballots are destroyed to maintain the integrity of the conclave.
Italy has the largest portion of cardinals within the conclave with 28. The United States is second with 11 in the College of Cardinals. For this conclave, there are 48 countries represented, which is among the most diverse in history.
Cardinals did hold their final closed-door debate on Monday to discuss what type of pope the Church needs at this time, with speculation that this will be a long, drawn out process.
"This time around, there are many different candidates, so it's normal that it's going to take longer than the last time," Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz of Chile told AP.
"There are no groups, no compromises, no alliances, just each one with his conscience voting for the person he thinks is best, which is why I don't think it will be over quickly," he added.
Before voting, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, led the day's Mass as the 115 cardinal's solemnly listened inside St. Peter's Basilica. Sodano called for unity in a Church that has recently been marred by divisive figures and explosive allegations.
"Each of us is therefore called to cooperate with the Successor of Peter, the visible foundation of such an ecclesial unity," Cardinal Sodano said. He added that the new pope has to "tirelessly promote justice and peace."
The Cardinals then took the short walk to the Sistine Chapel while singing the Litany of Saints, which is a long-standing tradition concerning the intercession of saints in their quest to select a new pope.
Now that they are inside the chapel, they will continuously be locked in total isolation until one papal candidate can earn two-thirds of the participating cardinal's votes, thus becoming the next pope.
Before the cardinals entered the chapel, they heard a meditation by an elderly Maltese cardinal and took a sworn oath of secrecy.