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More black smoke: Cardinals don't agree on pope

By Nicole Winfield

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, March 13 2013 11:51 a.m. MDT

Lombardi said it was a "good hypothesis" that the pope — whoever it is — would be installed next Tuesday, on the feast of St. Joseph, patron saint of the universal church. The installation Mass is attended by heads of state from around the world, requiring at least a few days' notice.

Thousands of people braved a chilly rain on Wednesday morning to watch the 6-foot- (2-meter-) high copper chimney on the chapel roof for the smoke signals telling them whether the cardinals had settled on a choice. Nuns recited the rosary, while children splashed in puddles.

After the smoke poured out, the crowds began to dissipate, though a few hangers-on appeared ready to wait out the afternoon balloting.

"The more we wait, the better chance we have of having a surprise," said Ludovic de Vernejouls, a 21-year-old Parisian studying architecture in Rome.

Unlike the confusion that reigned during the 2005 conclave, the smoke this time around has been clearly black — thanks to special smoke flares akin to those used in soccer matches or protests that were lit in the chapel ovens to make the burned ballots black.

The cardinals spent the night sequestered in the Vatican's Santa Marta hotel, an impersonal modern hotel on the edge of the Vatican gardens. They have no access to television, newspapers, cellphones or computers, and the hotel staff has taken an oath of secrecy to not reveal anything they see or hear.

The actual vote takes place in far more evocative surroundings: the Sistine Chapel frescoed by Michelangelo in the 16th century with scenes of "Creation" and "The Last Judgment."

Follow Nicole Winfield at www.twitter.com/nwinfield

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