Cardinals divided over who should be pope



The Gammarelli family, tailors to the Vatican for over 200 years, has prepared the wardrobe for the new Pope. It has come up with three identical white outfits in small, medium and large for the new Pontiff’s first appearance on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica. His outfit includes a pair of red shoes, white wool cassock with white cape and wide silk sleeves, a silk brocade sash with gold fringe, a red burgundy mozzetta and a gold-embroidered stole. AP

VATICAN CITY—Cardinals remained divided over who should be pope on Wednesday after three rounds of voting, an indication that disagreements remain about the direction of the Catholic Church following the upheaval unleashed by Pope Benedict XVI’s surprise resignation.

On the second day of the conclave, thick black smoke billowed from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, prompting 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,” said the Rev. ThankGod Okoroafor, a Nigerian priest studying theology at Holy Cross University in Rome. “But maybe it means that the cardinals need to take time, not to make a mistake in the choice.”

The Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi insisted that the continued balloting was part of the natural course of the election and didn’t signal divisions among cardinals. He noted that only once in the past century had a pope been elected on the third ballot: Pope Pius XII, elected on the eve of World War II.

“This is very normal,” he said. “It’s not a sign of particular divisions within the college, but rather of a normal process of discernment.”

A winner must receive 77 votes, or two-thirds of the 115, to be named pope.

Divided College of Cardinals

That said, a 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 into camps seeking a radical reform of the Holy See’s governance and those defending the status quo.

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.

The difficulty in finding both attributes in one man, some analysts say, means that the world should brace for a long conclave—or at least one longer than the four ballots it took to elect Benedict in 2005.

“We have not had a conclave over five days since 1831,” noted the Rev. Thomas Reese, author of “Inside the Vatican,” a bible of sorts for understanding the Vatican bureaucracy. “So if they are in there over five days, we know they are in trouble; they are having a hard time forming consensus around a particular person.”

The names mentioned most often as “papabile”—a cardinal who has the stuff of a pope—include Cardinal Angelo Scola, the archbishop of Milan, an intellect in the vein of Benedict but with a more outgoing personality, and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Canadian head of the Vatican’s important bishops’ office who is also scholarly but reserved like Benedict.

Brazilian Cardinal Odilo Scherer is liked by the Vatican bureaucracy but not by all of his countrymen. And Cardinal Peter Erdo of Hungary has the backing of European cardinals who have twice elected him as head of the European bishops’ conference.

On the more pastoral side is Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, the favorite of the Italian press, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the back-slapping, outgoing archbishop of New York who has admitted himself that his Italian is pretty bad—a drawback for a job that is conducted almost exclusively in the language.

Obama boost

The American candidates, however, did get a boost of sorts on Wednesday: President Barack Obama, who has clashed with American bishops over his health care mandate, indicated the Catholic Church could certainly tolerate a superpower pope since Catholic bishops in the US “don’t seem to be taking orders from me.”

In an interview with ABC News, he said an American pope would preside just as effectively as a leader of the Catholic Church from any other country.

Lombardi said it was a “good hypothesis” that the pope—whoever it is—would be installed next Tuesday, on the feast of St. Joseph, patron saint of the universal Church. The installation Mass is attended by heads of state from around the world, requiring at least a few days’ notice.

Thousands of people braved a chilly rain on Wednesday morning to watch the 6-foot- (2-meter-) high copper chimney on the chapel roof for the smoke signals telling them whether the cardinals had settled on a choice. Nuns recited the rosary, while children splashed in puddles.

After the smoke poured out, the crowds began to dissipate, though a few hangers-on appeared ready to wait out the afternoon balloting.

“The more we wait, the better chance we have of having a surprise,” said Ludovic de Vernejouls, a 21-year-old Parisian studying architecture in Rome.

Unlike the confusion that reigned during the 2005 conclave, the smoke this time around has been clearly black—thanks to special smoke flares akin to those used in soccer matches or protests that were lit in the chapel ovens to make the burned ballots black.

The Vatican on Wednesday divulged the secret recipe used: potassium perchlorate, anthracene, which is a derivative of coal tar, and sulfur for the black smoke; potassium chlorate, lactose and a pine resin for the white smoke.

The chemicals are contained in five units of a cartridge that is placed inside the stove of the Sistine Chapel. When activated, the five blocks ignite one after another for about a minute apiece, creating the steady stream of smoke that accompanies the natural smoke from the burned ballot papers.

Despite the great plumes of smoke that poured out of the chimney, neither the Sistine frescoes nor the cardinals inside the chapel suffered any smoke damage, Lombardi said.

The cardinals were spending their free time in between votes sequestered in the Vatican’s Santa Marta hotel, an impersonal modern hotel on the edge of the Vatican gardens. They have no access to television, newspapers, cell phones or computers, and the hotel staff has taken an oath of secrecy to not reveal anything they see or hear.

The actual vote takes place in far more evocative surroundings: the Sistine Chapel frescoed by Michelangelo in the 16th century with scenes of “Creation” and “The Last Judgment.”—Nicole Winfield

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • iamwhoiam

    Inquirer, is this your own Editorial headline or that of your foreign source? Your headline is VERY misleading and tends to misinformed the readers. Black smoke does not necessarily mean they are divided and should not be construed as such. There are 115 of them and they have to reach the consensus of 77 votes to have a new Pope. This conclave will probably run into its 4th or 5th day before they can come into a consensus on who should be the new Pope. Black smoke simply means 77 vote was not reached. That’s it. It does not mean that the cardinal-electors are divided. 

    • charlie

      Who cares!  They are mostly made up of pedophiles anyway- bakit wala kang sariling isip at di mo makita kung anong kagaguhan ginagawa nila.   Si Pope Benedict nagresign kasi may tape na kasiping niya ang kanyang Butler.   Ano sabi mo ngayon?  Hindi totoo?

      • Sarrah

        the lion roars again on its prey.MAY GOD BLESS YOU

      • superpilipinas

        he-he-he. ni-rape ka ba ng pari sa inyo?

        sumbong mo kay tulfo….he-he-he

      • Demetrio Conan

        Kasiping lang pala normal lang yan e pareho namang matatanda na yun. Yung butler i heard is something around 58 years old na basta walang malisya unlike yung mga team tatay sa bacolod may mga inanakan pala.

      • aPenni4Peace

        Na molestya eto. Siguro hingi nang hingi ng pera pang mall nong nag elementary pa. Maya-maya niton si Charlie magiging bading na. LOL!

    • Phenoy

      It was written by the Associated Press, and the Inquirer just reprinted (re-posted) it.

      • superpilipinas

        reprinted with a different title to mislead.

      • Phenoy

        well how do you know it was reprinted with a different title?

  • QQU

    Not enough information. Could the media tell us also the undergarments of the Pope? The salvation of the Catholic world might just hinge on it.

    “Red shoes, white wool cassock with white cape and wide silk sleeves, a silk brocade sash with gold fringe, a red burgundy mozzetta and a gold-embroidered stole.” When did this papal fashion frivolity start in the Catholic stark religion of love? 

    • superpilipinas

      well everyone seems to want to know every hair of information. now even the atheist and agnostics are excited about this.

    • disqus_EWrSdjV1nv

      its a fashion statement. daster na pambabae… kumbaga.

  • superpilipinas

    So why does Inquirer say

    “Cardinals divided over who should be Pope”

    What’s wrong with Inquirer? The editors seem to be divided!!! he-he-he

  • DonQuixoteDeRizal

    I was thinking, can’t they just use a roulette with 115 names and let God decide the next Pope? Anyway, all these Cardinals are holy and eligible to be a Pope. There’s no need for horse trading like the common politicians do. Just thinking.

  • Darwin

    They are also divided as to whether Pnoy is Filipino or Malaysian…but unanimous in declaring he’s the Anti-Christ.

  • batangsulpok

    Siyempre may politics din ang pagpili ng Pope, isa pa, may discrimination din dahil majority ang masusunod, kung baga, kung sino ang mas maraming pareho ang kulay o ethnic background.

  • Pedro_Gil

    White smoke appeared from the chimney above the Sistine Chapel, and bells from St. Peter’s Basilica have pealed, meaning the 115 Roman Catholic cardinals gathered at the Vatican from all over the world have chosen a new pope.
    The church’s 266th pontiff will replace Benedict XVI, whose surprise resignation last month prompted the cardinals to initiate a conclave, a Latin phrase meaning “with a key,” to pick a new leader for the world’s almost 2 billion Catholics.
    Although it’s not immediately clear who received the necessary two-thirds vote, several candidates were mentioned as front runners, including what could be the first African pope or the first pope from the U.S. or Canada. c/o yahoo news

  • Hey_Dudes

    We the Filipino the glib tongue types said there will be 10,000.00 tausugs on their way to fight a war with Malaysia over Sabah.  Then some also predicted cardinal Tagle’s chances are good and possibly the next pope? What else are the madam Aurings out there wants to predict?

  • joyecho

    What’s wrong with your editorial staff, Inquirer? Two days in a row now that you had a cheap and mediocre headline.  If only your headlines are to be the basis, then Inquirer is  going into the tabloid direction ….

  • im_earth

    Inquirer should make newsprint headlines predictable enough.

  • disqus_EWrSdjV1nv

    too late the news. may fafa na. hindi si tagle.

  • Cool LahgotzMO

    Bakit red na red yung shoes LOL. 

    • mhertz

      the red shoes symbolizes, the Pope is ready to die for Christ.

      • Cool LahgotzMO

        Is the pope’s underwear also going to be red? :)

      • UrHONOR

        Uh-HUH…’s mourning the dead it’s sheltering.

  • Jun Manacsa

    missed the headline…

  • Horst Manure



    NAKOW…..tumutulo ang laway ng mga TNL na mga bisyaps sa PH sa nakikita nilang mga bonggang umiporme na atat-na-atat nilang ina-asam-asam.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks



latest videos