By WILLIAM J. KOLE, Associated Press Writer  VATICAN CITY – Black smoke emerged from the Sistine Chapel chimney again Tuesday as the scarlet-robed cardinals inside failed in two more ballots to elect a new pope to build on John Paul II’s legacy and heal deep rifts within the Roman Catholic Church. Several thousand pilgrims and tourists who packed St. Peter’s Square to stare at the slender stovepipe jutting from the chapel’s brown tiled rooftop gasped when the smoke appeared just before noon. The 115 voting cardinals sequestered in the chapel were to break for lunch and reconvene in the afternoon for the day’s final session of secret balloting. White smoke

The smoke Tuesday morning confused onlookers for the second time in two days. But this time bells added to the uncertainty as well.

The crowd was quiet as it tried to determine the color of the smoke, which initially appeared to be gray. As the plume darkened, the pilgrims began to disperse as the chimney stopped spewing the black smoke.

But when the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica tolled — as they do every noontime — many still in the square thought it was the signal that a new pope had been elected. Only when the chimney spewed more black smoke was the outcome clear.

Murmurs in several languages — “nero,” “black,” and “schwartz” — then swept the square.

The two morning ballots Tuesday followed an early Mass in the cardinals’ high-security Vatican hotel. The prelates from six continents and 52 countries were to return to the chapel Tuesday afternoon for up to two afternoon ballots, with a new plume of smoke expected by late evening.

If the afternoon session also fails to produce a pope, the conclave will resume Wednesday morning. On each day of voting, the cardinals hold two ballots each morning and two each afternoon. After the voting sessions, the ballots and any notes are burned.

“All the people here have something in common: the religion, of course, but also being a part of history. This is a part of history,” said Adrien Asselin, 66, of Hawkesbury, Ontario, a retired art teacher who cut short a trip to South Africa to fly to Rome.

The first conclave of the new millennium is being held amid unprecedented security, with the cardinals seated atop a false floor concealing electronic jamming devices designed to thwart eavesdroppers by cutting signals to cell phones or bugs.

On Monday evening, black smoke that initially looked light enough to throw even Vatican Radio analysts off-guard poured from the chimney, disappointing a crowd of 40,000 pilgrims anxious for a sign that the cardinals had settled on a successor. That first puff followed the conclave’s initial vote.

“We thought it was white. Then it went black. I had a feeling of exhilaration followed by disappointment,” said Harold Reeves, a 35-year-old theology student from Washington, D.C.

A quick decision in the first round of voting on Monday would have been a surprise. The cardinals have a staggering range of issues to juggle as they choose the first new pope of the 21st century — fallout from priest sex-abuse scandals, chronic shortages of priests and nuns, as well as calls for sharper activism against poverty and easing the ban on condoms to help combat AIDS.

The next pontiff also must maintain the global ministry of John Paul, who took 104 international trips in his more than 26-year papacy.

“Keep praying for the new pope,” said 82-year-old Cardinal Luis Aponte Martinez of Puerto Rico, who was too old to join the conclave, open only to cardinals under 80 years old.

It is the first time in more than a generation that crowds have been staring at the chimney for the famous smoke and word of a new pope. In that time, the church has been pulled in two directions: a spiritual renaissance under John Paul, but battered by scandals and a flock pressing for less rigid teachings.


“It’s very powerful to be in the place where St. Peter was martyred and to pray to the Lord for a worthy successor,” said Brother Mateo Lethimonier, 30, a monk from Argentina in a light blue robe and sandals who was among those on the square.

He said he was praying for the cardinals to find “the one who loves Jesus most, the one who represents the church best.”

Before the conclave began, one of the possible candidates — German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — tried to set a tone of urgency, warning cardinals, bishops and others gathered in St. Peter’s Basilica for a Mass that the church must stay true to itself.

“We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires,” said Ratzinger, 78, who has been the Vatican’s chief overseer of doctrine since 1981.

“Having a clear faith, based on the creed of the church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism,” he said, making clear that he disagrees with that view.

About five hours later, the electors walked in a procession into the chapel decorated with frescoes by Michelangelo. They bowed before the altar and took their places.

For 30 minutes, each walked up and placed his right hand — with the special gold ring of the cardinals — on the Holy Book and again pledged never to reveal what will occur in the conclave. The penalty is severe: excommunication.

Under conclave rules, four rounds of voting were being held per day beginning Tuesday — two in the morning, two in the afternoon — until a prelate gets two-thirds support: 77 votes. If they remain deadlocked late in the second week of voting, they can go to a simple majority: 58 votes.

No conclave in the past century has lasted more than five days, and the election that elevated Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyla to into the papacy as John Paul II in October 1978 took eight ballots over three days.


Associated Press Writer Niko Price contributed to this story.