By Mark Abrams
VATICAN CITY (CBS) — It was certainly black smoke about 11:39 a.m. Rome time, 6:39 Philadelphia time. But there was some confusion at first because as smoke poured out of the Sistine Chapel’s chimney stack, it looked gray and it took a little time for it to come out black as the chemicals added to make it black ignited.
Thousands were standing in the rain on St. Peter’s Square in anticipation of the smoke, but left disappointed.
They are using specially treated pellets to produce the color of the smoke.
So the cardinals have completed three rounds of voting without reaching a consensus, which some Vatican observers say makes this a wide open race and, perhaps, opens the door to an American pope.
The cardinals went to lunch outside the Sistine Chapel and return there this afternoon for two more ballots. We may see smoke as early as sometime after 5 p.m., noon Philadelphia time, or as late as 7 p.m., that would be 2 p.m. Philadelphia time.
Father John Kelly is among the handful of Philadelphia clerics assigned to Rome. He’s here on sabbatical since January.
Kelly, a priest for 25 years, grew up in the Port Richmond section and has a large family back in the Philadelphia area.
He says it’s a thrill to be here at the historic time in the life of the Catholic Church.
Kelly says he’s confident that the wisdom of the Holy Spirit is present in the chapel and the right man will be chosen.
“So I think it’s rather profound that one person saying yes to the Lord can make such an impact. So, similarly, I think going forward, whoever says that yes I believe will be guided by the Holy Spirit and the decision of the cardinals in the conclave.”
So, we may know more sometime later this afternoon.