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Mar 13, 2013 at 04:00pm IST

Cardinals begin papal conclave in earnest on Wednesday

Vatican City: After a first inconclusive vote, Cardinals began the process of choosing a new pope in earnest on Wednesday, praying for inspiration at the start of the first full day in a conclave to choose a leader to face a major crisis in the Catholic Church.

The 115 cardinal electors attended a morning Mass in the Pauline Chapel in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.

From there, they were returning to the Sistine Chapel to hold as many as two votes in the morning and two in the afternoon, seeking to elect a pontiff capable of facing a string of scandals and internal strife.

Cardinals begin papal conclave in earnest on Wednesday

When a pope is elected, white smoke will emerge from the chapel and the bells of St Peter's will peal.

Pilgrims and tourists began arriving in the square early in the morning, hoping to get a glimpse of history by watching smoke emerge from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. When a pope is elected, white smoke will emerge from the chapel and the bells of St Peter's will peal.

The cardinals were shut inside on Tuesday for the first time, after a day of religious pomp and prayer to prepare for the task. Only one vote was held on Tuesday night, ending inconclusively as expected, with black smoke billowing from a chimney above the chapel to signal no pope had been elected.

No modern conclave has reached a decision on the first day, so the lack of an outcome on Tuesday's single vote was no surprise. The initial vote is seen as a way of filtering the choice down to front runners for discussions in following days. Most bets are on a decision by Thursday although there is still no clear favourite and it could take longer.

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