VATICAN CITY (CBS) – The College of Cardinals began the process of electing a new pope Tuesday.

The first vote was held around 2:40 p.m. Boston time and black smoke emerged from the Sistine Chapel chimney at the Vatican, signalling no pope has been chosen yet.

The voting will resume Wednesday.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Joe Mathieu reports from the Vatican

Boston Archbishop Cardinal Sean O’Malley and his counterparts from around the world began the day with a morning mass that lasted nearly two hours at the Vatican.

Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley at Mass at The Vatican Tuesday morning. (Credit: WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Jay Borselle)

Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley at Mass at The Vatican Tuesday morning. (Credit: WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Jay Borselle)

At the start of the service, there was a huge clap of thunder and lightning, as rain soaked the crowd in St. Peter’s Square who gathered outside to watch the mass on large screens.

Afterwards, the cardinals went back to the Vatican hotel. Around 11:30 a.m. Boston time, they slowly proceeded into the Sistine Chapel to start their conclave.

The doors to the chapel were locked at 12:35 p.m. after all 115 cardinals took an oath of secrecy.  The oath was broadcast on television for the first time in the history of the conclave.

The cardinals are now cut off from the outside world, with no electronic communications until a pope is chosen.

Anti-bugging devices have been installed in the chapel for the conclave so no one can eavesdrop on the proceedings.

WBZ-TV’s Lisa Hughes reports from Rome

Once the ballots are cast, they are placed in a golden chalice and counted by three cardinals. That count is then double-checked by three other cardinals, they are then burned in a furnace that’s been temporarily installed in the chapel.

A two-thirds majority is required to elect a new pope.

If a pope is chosen, the smoke from the furnace will be white and bells will ring outside in the square.

If the vote fails to elect a pontiff, as it did Tuesday evening at the Vatican, the smoke will be black and the voting will continue.

After each vote, the smoke will initially be gray, no matter what the decision is. It will then turn darker or lighter, letting the world know what happened, but it takes time for the colors to change.

It took almost 15 minutes for the smoke to turn white when Pope Benedict XVI was elected in 2005. The bell ringing is meant to eliminate any uncertainty about the color of the smoke.


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