(VATICAN CITY) Rome awoke to a cold, gray, and wet morning today as the cardinals began their first full day in the papal conclave. The weather seems to have reduced the turnout, as a much smaller crowd than last night gathers for the signal from the morning vote. Of course, this is a work and school day in Rome, and the turnout will be much larger for the evening signal — if in fact we don’t get white smoke at some time this morning.
Earlier, an Italian journalist interviewed me for a radio show and asked me for my prediction on both the timing and result of the conclave. I get the feeling that this will take a little longer than usual, although I’m in the minority here in the media center and in Rome. She asked me whether I think an American Pope will emerge, but I remain skeptical, even with the friendly press reception both Timothy Dolan and Sean O’Malley have received in Italy. She remarked that Dolan and O’Malley have also given the Italian media a friendly reception — something to keep in mind, if the other cardinals have seen that as a form of campaigning. That would make me even more skeptical that an American Pope will emerge.
Today’s briefing will take place from our media center rather than La Sala Stampa’s office, but I won’t get video of it, because they are already warning us (3 hours prior) that we’d better stay in our seats and not clog up the floor. Vatican TV will televise it live, of course, and the images aren’t terribly exciting, but it will be fun for those of us who have settled into this location as our home base.
Currently, it’s 10:30 am in Rome, and the smoke could appear any time in the next two hours. If we get a signal, I’ll write up a separate post in the Green Room for black smoke, and here on the front page for white smoke.
Update: We’re a little past halfway in the morning session, and nothing yet. The crowd is growing in the square, despite the weather. It’s still not anywhere near the size of last night, but the rain isn’t dampening spirits here.
Update II: As I posted in the GR, black smoke — and so we go on.