VATICAN CITY (WFRV) Black smoke flowed from a chimney on top of the Sistine Chapel, a sign to the waiting crowd and the world that no new pope was elected. "It will be white tomorrow," said a woman outside the chapel.
The crowd in St. Peters Square watched the chimney on the large screen, while inside 115 cardinals from around the world cast their first vote in the process. They entered the chapel, asking the saints to help them choose a new leader and each took an oath of secrecy. The cardinals placed their hand on the Bible, swearing to keep their vote between themselves and God. Then, the giant, wooden doors were closed and locked, sealing off the outside world.
"It's a very momentous occasion, very powerful, heavy responsibility, because one of them will be chosen," said Bishop David Ricken of the Green Bay Catholic Diocese.
In northeast Wisconsin, the faithful gathered at mass and prayed for the cardinals. Bishop Ricked says the next pope needs to reach out to Catholics around the world - spreading the gospel using the technology of today. "We have to find new ways to connect with young people," Ricken said.
A message shared by many parishioners. "Someone in tune with the times we're in," said John Miller of De Pere. "I would like to see a younger pope, preferably under 60 years of age."
This first vote of the conclave is seen as a test because it is a wide-open field. For Bishop Ricken it is a solemn - yet exciting time. "I think it's a wonderful opportunity for the church to recast its efforts and get its message out their once again," Ricken said.