Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Don't Be Fooled: It's Black

The crowds are now emptying out of St. Peter's Square after the smoke seen rising from the Sistine Chapel chimney pipe was apparently black. Yesterday's smoke appeared much darker black than today's (greyish in color), which caused a moment of hesitation among the crowd and with the American cable news networks. Had the two-thirds majority been reached? No one could be certain. But after many moments had passed with no ringing of the bells, it was clear that no new Pope had been elected.

But minutes later, more confusion occurred: the clock struck noon and the Basilica bells rung out, causing many in the crowd to cheer wildly for about a minute, as they confused the bells announcing the hour with bells announcing a new Pope. The chimney then began again to pour out more smoke (much blacker the second time around), thus subsiding any hopes of the crowd. This morning's two votes brings the total tally to three. Another round of two ballots will occur this afternoon beginning at 4:00 p.m. CET (10:00 a.m. EDT). Smoke is expected at roughly 7:00 p.m. CET (1:00 p.m. EDT).


ZanniPolo said...

I can foresee a problem with the new system. If the Cardinals are shut inside the Sistine Chapel, imcommunicado, how will the bell ringers know that the smoke is really white? I must say that today's smoke was a completely different colour from yesterday's and I really had problems deciding. Of course, the Cardinals inside have no idea what it looked like to us. In the event that the white smoke looks grey (more than likely) will they just blithely go on preparing the new Pope for Urbi et Orbi and then surprise us all after about an hour?

vbspurs said...

Because Zannipolo, if I understood correctly, the Cardinals are not alone inside the Sistine Chapel, but there are actually attendants there (given the same Oath of Secrecy), who burn the ballots.

It's not a Cardinal who does the grunt work of mixing chemicals etc, which makes sense. These attendants must have been practising for two weeks now, but obviously, since as Jimbo mentioned, the smoke was grey (gulp), it's not easy to get that combination right for charcoal black.

Here is my blogpost of the Second Ballot, where I also conjecture as to the Timetable the Cardinals must follow.


ZanniPolo said...

You must be right Victoria. According to Universi Dominici Gregis the following people are with the Cardinals in the Conclave.

1. the Secretary of the College of Cardinals, who acts as Secretary of the electoral assembly;
2. the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations
3. two Masters of Ceremonies
4. two Religious attached to the Papal Sacristy;
5. an ecclesiastic chosen by the Cardinal Dean in order to assist him in his duties;
6. a number of priests from the regular clergy for hearing confessions in the different languages;
7. two medical doctors for possible emergencies.

I guess as they do not appear to be locked in from the outside any more, they will get one of the Masters of Cerimonies to communicate with the bell ringers.

Anonymous said...

You should check out the article in this week's issue of US News and World Report. They say that the American Cardinals have got together to block Ratzinger.

If Ratzinger is elected it'll be today, otherwise, we'll see an Italian elected tomarrow, or someone from the third world elected the next day.

The 1878-1978 system was designed to make life as uncomfortable for the Cardinals as possible in order to facilitate a quick decision.

This may be a long interregnum...

Kaneaxel said...

I disagree with the way the media and many have conceived of the conclave as a conservative vs progressive detabe. It's simplified and presumptious. I imagine the discussion is a great deal more complex. First of all the divide between conservative and progressive in the college of cardinals is much smaller than in society. What does progressive mean, accepting of contraception. I don't imagine any major change like ordination of women could be made it would split the church. I think the cardinals take a much greater look at personality factors; some have mentioned a challenge is they simply do not know each other well enough. Imagine the personality questions they ask themselves. Is this person, spiritual,charismatic, empathic, pastoral, communicative etc. This combines with theological positions. The conservative vs. progressive debate irrelevant is excessively simplifed and a secualrized view.

John said...

Yeah, but trying to explain the divisions within the College would drive people insane, otherwise. Progressive v Conservative is simplified, but it's *something* most people can figure out.

Anonymous said...

There's the economic angle and the religious angle.

The question as to whether the debts of failed third world countries should be forgiven is a very different issue than if there should be married priestesses or not.

A Pope who says "yes" to one and "no" to the other isn't neccessarily inconsistant.

A Pope who argues for social justice in the third world, and at the same time declares jihad on condoms is neither progressive or regressive.

It's all just showbiz anyway...

jose said...

I'm sure theres a good reason for them to be there, but do you really think that the clergy there to hear confession get much use? I mean, you're basically sequestered like in a trial.

ZanniPolo said...

Imagine what sins the Cardinals might want to confess during a Conclave! The mind boggles!

Meg Q said...

I don't mean to be rude to you, ericl, it's really the story I question. The idea of all the American cardinals "getting together" for anything, much less "blocking" Cdl Ratzinger, is one of the craziest I've ever heard. Can you imagine Francis George and James Stafford, on the one hand, and Roger Mahony and Ted McCarrick on the other, "getting together" to agree on any such strategy? That would be like herding cats.

However, that it might be early days yet, and certainly that everyone is testing out how things stand in these votes, and that alliances may have the possibility of shifting, I could believe.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I are more than upset. We are both of Polish descent. My great grandmother was German,I just found this out five years ago, twenty years after her death. My family and I will never support a German Pope especially one with Nazi ties. The cardinal from Nigeria should have been elected. The election of Ratzinger will put our religion back 70 years. My friends and I are ready to abandon the church because of this. We were hoping for a more progressive electoree.

Anonymous said...

I find it amazing that people will give up on the church if it does not go their own way. Religion is not meant to be easy it is a path to a greater reward. Jesus would not suffer on the cross if all things were made easy. I extend my congratulations to our ne Pope Benedict XVI. He is in my prayers as we have lots of issues to deal with.

We all want life easier but think about it is that the way to get to heaven. I think not.