By Mark Abrams
VATICAN CITY (CBS) – The smoke watch begins as the cardinals of the Catholic Church head into conclave in the Sistine Chapel.
One hundred fifteen cardinals go in, one will come out pope. They are locked behind the doors of Sistine Chapel for prayer and quiet deliberation and to vote. The first ballot could be taken today, but there is no expectation it will produce a pope.
Veteran Vatican journalist and chronicler of church politics, Rocco Palmo, says the ballots are carefully counted and names announced in front of the cardinals.
“The cardinals have tally sheets in front of them with the names of each one of them so they can keep notes. But, if the ballots are inconclusive, the ballots and all the notes the cardinals have taken are collected,” and, they’re burned in the Sistine Chapel stove.
A second stove is then fired up and a chemical added to the burning material in that one to produce the black smoke for no pope, white smoke for a new pope.
The cardinals have four voting sessions a day, two in the morning and two in the afternoon. The man who becomes pope must get two-thirds of the votes — or 77 total — to be elected.