White smoke rose from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel today and the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica are ringing, signifying that a new pope has been elected to head the world’s Catholic Church.
A roar of cheers arose from the thousands of people awaiting the signal outside the Vatican.
The 115 cardinal electors began the conclave on Tuesday following the resignation of Benedict XVI, the first pontiff to resign in 600 years. At least a two-thirds majority — 77 votes — was required to elect the next pope. French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the senior cardinal in the order of the deacons, is expected to step onto the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica shortly to announce, “Habemus Papam,” Latin for “We have a pope.”
Tauran will then reveal the pontiff’s birth name and the name he has chosen for himself as pope.
The new pope is then expected to step onto the balcony to greet the crowd gathered below in St. Peter’s Square.