Live cam of Vatican chimney courtesy of NBC News
3:15 p.m. EDT UPDATE
Jorge-Mario Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina has been elected the new pope. He has taken the name Pope Francis I.
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3:00 p.m. EDT UPDATE
According to Vatican Radio, the new pontiff is currently changing into the traditional white vestments. Afterwards, he will return to the Sistine Chapel where each of the 115 cardinal-electors will kneel to offer a sign of homage and obedience to their new Holy Father. Following that, the new Pope will move to the Pauline Chapel to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Shortly thereafre, the senior cardinal deacon, French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran will appear at the central balcony on St Peter’s Basilica to proclaim the Latin words ‘Habemus Papam’, revealing the identity of the new pontiff and the name that he has chosen.
2:50 p.m. EDT UPDATE
Thousands of excited pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square in rainy Rome are eagerly awaiting the identity of the new Pope, which was just elected by the College of Cardinals.
The Swiss Guards have made an appearance around the Square, suggesting that the new pontiff will soon appear on the balcony overlooking the huge crowds to introduce himself.
2:10 p.m. EDT UPDATE
White smoke is pouring out of the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, signaling that the College of Cardinals have elected a new Pope.
1:35 p.m. EDT UPDATE
The 115-member College of Cardinals has returned to the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican to resume voting on the next pope, after several rounds of failing to agree on a successor to Pope Benedict XVI who resigned last month.
The papal conclave will vote twice more Wednesday.
The Washington Post reported that three front-runners for the top job include Cardinals Angelo Scola of Italy, Marc Ouellet of Canada, and Odilo Pedro Scherer of Brazil.
A two-thirds majority (or 77 votes) is required for victory.
“Today is the fundamental day,” Marco Politi, a papal biographer and veteran Vatican watcher, told the Post. “It is a referendum on Scola and whether the papacy will go back to an Italian or cross the Atlantic. For the first time there is a real possibility to have a pope from the Americas.”
Thousands of pilgrims have gathered in rainy St. Peter’s Square eagerly anticipating a new Pope.
“Having a Brazilian pope would be better than winning the World Cup,” said Bruno Smania, a high school student from Parana, Brazil.
“It would be so important us, a sign that Brazil has really arrived.”
1:10 p.m. EDT UPDATE
Anti-mafia investigators in Italy raided the diocese of Cardinal Angelo Scola, the archbishop of Milan, and an apparent front-runner to become the next Pope.
The probe is part of an investigation into corruption associated with hospital and healthcare supplies and involves Roberto Formigoni, a long time friend of Scola (whom the Cardinal has recently sought to distance himself from).
Formigoni, a former regional governor of Milan, was one of the people arrested in the raids and charged with conspiracy. He denies any wrongdoing.
Scola and Formigoni were both early supporters of the controversial Communion and Liberation movement, a conservative lay ecclesial movement within the Catholic Church.
12:25 p.m. EDT UPDATE:
By early Wednesday afternoon (New York time), the College of Cardinals have failed to elect a new Pope, as two early ballots led to the issue of black smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, indicating that the conclave did not find an candidate with the required two-thirds majority.
While no front-runner has emerged, some media has speculated that Cardinal Angelo Scola, the archbishop of Milan, might have an inside shot.
The Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera reported that Scola has already received the support of up to 50 cardinal-electors (out of a total of 115 in the conclave).
However, Scola may be compromised by his former links to the controversial Communion and Liberation movement, a conservative lay ecclesial movement within the Catholic Church that is a strong supporter of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. One of the CL’s most prominent members, Roberto Formigoni, a childhood friend of Scola.
However, Scola has recently rebuked the CL’s leadership.
11:15 a.m. EDT UPDATE
Speculation is also rising that the Church mat elect a non-European Holy Father.
Lisa Shepard, from Virginia in the U.S., a tourist and pilgrim, told BBC that she endorses Louis Tagle, the cardinal from the Philippines.
“He’s young and great with technology so he’d be good for communicating the Church’s message to the world.”
Shepard’s sister, Mary Uhrig, backs Cardinal Peter Turkson from the West African nation of Ghana.
“He’s strong and spiritual and would be a great guide for the young,” she said.
However, Austen Ivereigh, a Catholic journalist and expert on the Vatican, said that if a pope is chosen on Wednesday, the winner would likely be Cardinal Angelo Scola of Italy.
“[But] If the conclave continues into Thursday, it will be a more global contest, with strong candidates from North and South America, as well Cardinal Louis Tagle from the Philippines,” Ivereigh told the BBC.