By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press
VATICAN CITY (AP) Cardinals elected a new pope to lead the world's 1.2 billion Catholics on Wednesday, overcoming deep divisions to select the 266th pope in a remarkably fast conclave.
Tens of thousands of people who braved cold rain to watch the smokestack atop the Sistine Chapel jumped in joy when white smoke poured out, many shouting "Habemus Papam!" or "We have a pope!" As the bells of St. Peter's Basilica and churches across Rome tolled, signaling a pontiff had been chosen.
The pope, whose identity isn't yet known, is due to emerge from the loggia overlooking St. Peter's Square to deliver his first words as the Bishop of Rome.
Elected on the fifth ballot, he was chosen in one of the fastest conclaves in years, remarkable given there was no clear front-runner going into the vote and that the church had been in turmoil following the upheaval unleashed by Pope Benedict XVI's surprise resignation.
A winner must receive 77 votes, or two-thirds of the 115, to be named pope.
The conclave played out against the backdrop of the first papal resignation in 600 years 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, had divided the College of Cardinals into camps seeking a radical reform of the Holy See's governance and those defending the status quo.
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.
Video of our new pope - Francis I
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. (Please click on the heading to this full text and source.)
"...repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering...." (this page)
Thank you, Pope Benedict, for your many years of faithful service to the Church.
Pope Benedict XVI stunned the world today by announcing that he will resign from the papacy on February 28.
He made the decision in view of his age and declining health and after much prayerful soul-searching. He said in his statement:
After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.
Read the full text at:
Thank you, Pope Benedict, for your many years of faithful service to the Church.
Thank you for the courage you showed in accepting the papacy.
Thank you for your courage and honesty revealed in making the difficult decision to step down.
We are grateful your fatherly care and concern for us, and we are praying for you.
(Please click on the heading to this full text and source)
"Take this Scapular, it shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger and a pledge of peace.
Whosoever dies wearing this Scapular shall not suffer eternal fire." She further says: "Wear it devoutly and perseveringly. It is my garment. To be clothed in it means you are continually thinking of me, and I in turn, am always thinking of you and helping you to secure eternal life."
My feelings... I have been sad throughout this day, over the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. Many thoughts have come to my mind. One is, that 'this was why they chose him' - he is able to let go at the time he feels he is no longer able. Possibly that is the strength Pope Benedict has - which possibly many pontif's of the past did not possess; and may have been able to benefit from.
What has been troubling me most about Pope Benedict's resignation is the state of our world;
as the pope said, "...in today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary..." Questions of the 'relevance for the life of faith'...
hmmm - that statement weighs heavy on my heart.
That we are questioning the importance of a life of faith. My own faith has only been growing stronger in my past 24 years, and only greater just this past year as I have been participating in the faith of the Catholic Church, which is the church I was baptised into. I can only be grateful that my faith is growing; but what of the fate of our world? So I'll continue to pray. I've incorporated the Rosary into my weekly prayers. Two Rosaries a week at this time and it has changed my life! (Note: One or two rosaries per day at this time - July 2013. Much good is coming from this. Nancy)
In one of his many writings, Pope Benedict spoke of our world as being a
place 'where they believe they can live without God. That scares me - and I can see that point. Much more than I
d like to see.
This pope has been referred to as a 'deep thinker' even when in the eye of the press; not a 'media darling as Pope John Paul II.' It was also said that, he 'spoke in paragraphs' not in 'sound bites' when
he was interviewed. He held true to his beliefs and his dedication to fulfilling his obligation to the church. For that, I am grateful to him. Nancy Gurish
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.
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).
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, a sign that a decision has been reached. It means the conclave will reconvene on Wednesday morning.
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.
Andrew Medichini / AP
Cardinals from around the world gather in the Vatican to elect the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church.
Shortly after the conclave began, semi-naked feminist activists with the words "pope no more" written on their chests and backs staged a protest right next to St. Peter's Square, directly in front of the Vatican.
They were tackled by police and detained.
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 yearsÂ that they locked them away with limited food and water to encourage a result.
Earlier, thousands of pilgrims and tourists waited in line to get inside St. Peter's Basilica for a special pre-conclave Mass with the cardinals.
"It's in the air! You really feel it," said Lois Girten, 55, from Austin, Texas, who secured a last-minute place on a two-week pilgrimage to Rome through a cancellation. Photo Credit: MSNBC, Jamieson, Alastair
"It's God's gift that I'm in Rome just as the conclave takes place. I'm almost speechless with excitement, it's a real treat for me."
Several thousand visitors were allowed in to take part in the service, according to Religion News Service correspondent Alessandro Speciale inside the basilica.
At night, cardinals will walk or be taken by minibus the short distance to the modest rooms in Casa Santa Marta, which John Paul II had built in 1996.
Such is the
importance of secrecy that Vatican officials have installed jamming devices to prevent the use of cellphones by cardinals or hidden microphones
by anyone wanting to hear their deliberations.
No conclave has lasted more than five days in the past century, with most finishing within two or three days. Pope Benedict was elected within barely 24 hours in 2005 after just four rounds of voting.
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.
He leaves his successora sea of troubles,Â including seemingly never-ending sex-abuse scandals, rivalry and strife inside the Vatican bureaucracy, a shortage of priests and a rise of secularism in its European strongholds.
Head of Roman Catholic church releases declaration explaining decision to step down at the end of February
The Guardian, Monday 11 February 2013 11.36 EST
Pope Benedict XVI waves from the popemobile during a visit to Paris in 2008.
I have convoked you to this consistory, not only for the three canonisations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering.
However, in today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me.
For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of bishop of Rome, successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a conclave to elect the new supreme pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.
Dear brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the holy church to the care of our supreme pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the cardinal fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new supreme pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the holy church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.