Black smoke rose above the Sistine Chapel on Tuesday, signaling that 115 Roman Catholic cardinals failed to agree on a new pope during the first day of the papal conclave, according to reports on MSN released this afternoon. This means that deliperations continue in the eternal city,
The "princes of the church" began deliberating inside the Vatican after swearing an oath of secrecy and entering the papal conclave at about 5 p.m. local time (12 p.m. ET), added the media report.
"The smoke was created by the burning of ballot papers used by the cardinals in their deciding vote, with chemical cartridges being added to ensure the smoke did not appear to be white — the sign that a decision has been reached. It means the conclave will reconvene on Wednesday morning," added MSN. "None of the 115 cardinals will be seen or heard, nor will they have any contact with the outside world, until they have chosen a successor to Benedict XVI, who abdicated on Feb. 28."
"They're on their own now," said NBC News Vatican expert George Weigel, referring to the total isolation demanded by church rules.
"The word "conclave" comes from the Latin meaning "with key". It is a church tradition that began in 1268 when local officials became so fed up with the lack of a decision among cardinals — they had deliberated for more than two years — that they locked them away with limited food and water to encourage a result," added MSN.
"In his homily, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, told the congregation: My brothers, let us pray that the Lord will grant us a pontiff who will embrace this noble mission with a generous heart," added NBC in the MSN report.
"The former retired Pope Benedict triggered the election last month with his shock decision to abdicate because of his increasingly frail health — the first pontiff to step down in six centuries, added NBC.
The pope's resignation leaves the church at a crossroads: while the Roman Catholic Church addresses the sex-abuse scandals, political rivalry and strife inside the Vatican bureaucracy, a shortage of priests and a rise of more independent European branches of the church. The new pope must take the helms of a church in turmoil as it attempts to redefine itself for a new generation of catholics. It is with eagerness and with anticipation that Staten Island religious educators and the religious community await the news of the Roman Catholic Church's new papal leader. I look forward to reporting on this story in the coming days and months as the future and new direction of catholicism takes hold.