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White Smoke over Sistine Chapel; New Pope is here

It seems the new Pope has been selected.  The white smoke is out.  The new guy will soon be out to the cries of “habemus papam” on the balcony to the joy of 1.2 bn Catholics.

White smoke rose over the Sistine Chapel on Wednesday, heralding the election of a new pope after the 115 voting cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church reached a conclusion on the 266th pontiff on the second day of deliberations.

Crowds erupted in joy in St. Peter’s Square and waited anxiously for the presentation of the still unknown new pope, who was expected to greet the world on the balcony of the St. Peter’s Basilica for the first time before 8 p.m. Rome time (3 p.m. Eastern time).

Selecting a Pope isn’t that easy.  Although people say it is a “Spiritual” exercise, it is anything but.  Lot of block/parochial / racial politics is involved.. and the 2/3rds majority isn’t easy to engineer.  Although hispanic and black cardinals were in the line-up of hopefuls earlier, but now it seems it has come down to just three.  All Caucasians… as expected.  Here is a detailed set of Bios of the hopefuls.

To be chosen, a candidate had to win the support of at least two-thirds of the 115 voting-age cardinals. Reported front-runners included Cardinals Angelo Scola of Italy, Marc Ouellet of Canada, and Odilo Pedro Scherer of Brazil.

Because no one bloc of cardinals — organized around passport or priorities — was large enough on its own to generate the requisite 77 votes, a candidate needed to consolidate support from a cross-section of electors. And if consensus remained elusive, the cardinals could look to the less familiar names in their college, which is what happened when John Paul II was chosen in 1978.


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