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Black Smoke Means No Pope Selected

Aired March 13, 2013 - 06:30   ET


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And if necessary, the cardinals will return for afternoon voting that is beginning at 11:00 a.m. Eastern. Then, at 12:30 this afternoon, all eyes will be back on the Sistine Chapel chimney awaiting yet another smoke signal from the cardinals.

So let's get right to CNN's Chris Cuomo. He's anchoring all of our live coverage from Rome.

Good morning to you.


(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE) Yes, we're waiting for the pope to come here. The crowds are gathering. If you look at St. Peter's Square, obviously no action from the chimney, but you see more and more people are starting to come in there. Tourists, sure, but this is a big tradition.

You take a look you'll see flags from all different countries. We've been hearing different languages there, different signs in different languages.

So people are coming in as John Allen just explained to me. Even if it's black smoke, not a bad time to hit the restaurants in the area, get a nice meal. So it's an occasion any way you look at it.

Let me bring in John Allen, senior Vatican analyst. Father Edward Beck, Passionist priest, CNN contributor.

All right, a little bit of a tone change here. We've been talking about how there are big issues and they have to figure it out and maybe there's a reformer. But a reformer could mean in the eyes of the church as they bring back the throne and the crown as Father Edwards was saying. It can mean anything is the point.

My question to you is this: don't they have to make an important change on the big ticket issues, sex abuse scandal, money mismanagement? Doesn't the pope have to come out and say, as headlines, nothing vague this time as we're used to, but that this matters, this matters. I mean, isn't that -- are we at that threshold of urgency?

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Well, listen. I think all the issues you just ticked off, money management, other administrative questions, they are critical. And obviously in the run-up to the conclave a number of cardinals have been saying they want somebody who is going to get his hands around those issues and move the ball.

But let's not forget the first and fundamental role of the pope is to inspire people about the presence of god in their lives, and try to draw them deeper into the faith. So, this isn't primarily a job for a CEO or a business manager. It's critically important as those things are. The fundamental thing they want is somebody who could do what Catholics call evangelize, meaning try to set people on fire for a hunger for the faith.

CUOMO: OK. Let me take the argument to you. That I understand John's point. However, you have a lot of the faithful, sure, it may be an American perspective but it's relevant on some level nonetheless.

All the evangelism for a second, come out and say we did the wrong thing, it may still be out there, I'm going to approach it differently. I'm not going to punish cardinals like Wuerl who comes forward and says, we have to take a harder line. You're not going to have to tell us about abuse scandals anymore, we'll do it for ourselves.

FATHER EDWARD BECK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I do think a lot of people expect and want that to happen. Whether it will? I think it depends on who --


CUOMO: That's what I'm trying to understand.

BECK: I see that perception is reality for people. And the perception is, I think, that the pope is out of touch, doesn't get the real life of the people, doesn't get connected with issues today.

But you have to remember how long we've come in the papacy. I was mentioning to you earlier that it was Paul VI who famously -- we used to have a coronation and the pope was crowned and carried around on a throne. He took the crown off, put it on the altar, and said, "I'm done with this. Sell it and give the money to the poor."

And that was the last time a crown and that throne was used. John Paul I when he was elected? No crown. No throne.

The image of the pope is shift -- the papacy shifted from a coronation of a king, who used to rule papal states, remember, to a spiritual leader who was a vehicle to God and to people. That's a big receptive change.

CUOMO: But you have your big blocs in Asia, John, Africa, South America, poverty is hard. To hear about the money not being used wisely is unacceptable.

OK. You want to put celibacy to the side, OK. Let's do women priests to the side, OK. But you're wasting the money. You know the church has to deal with the poor. We must do better.

The urgency of no half measures, no double-speak. Isn't -- aren't we at that point for the Catholic Church?

ALLEN: I think we certainly are. And I think, actually, you referred a striking number of cardinals in the run-up to this conclave sound like Chris Cuomo in a way in terms of what they want from the next pope.

We used to have lay cardinals in the church, Chris. So, you may be in line for one of these gigs. Look, I mean, the thing is, there's a big difference between 2013 and 2005 is that in 2005, the cardinals felt they had just witnessed the end of a massively, historically successful papacy. The primary thing they looked to do was keep momentum from John Paul II going. That's how they get John Paul's right hand man in four ballots in the conclave.

This time I think there's a perception that while Benedict has been a magnificent teacher in many ways, in terms of the substance you just ticked off, at least at the level of perception, the handle of the sex abuse crisis, the handling of the financial scandal, the handling of the business in the Vatican went off the rails and they know, to come back to the point I was making before, it's going to be very difficult for the next pope to set people on fire with the faith the perception is that the Vatican is not walking its own talk.

Which is why I think they believe these two things go together. I mean, it's not either inspiration or business management. It's that you've got to get the business management right before you can inspire.


BECK: Say what we believe. Say what we want you to say. Give us married priests. Give us women clergy. Allow same-sex marriage.

And for people, I think that perception would mean that would mean the church is modernized. That would not be the church's perception on modernization.

CUOMO: Or hold yourselves to the level of accountability that your station and your religion suggest. I think that's -- I think that's the message.

BECK: For sure.

CUOMO: To be sure, Zoraida, John, when the pope comes out it's going to be a big deal no matter who it is. But there will be a message with that selection. We just have to figure out what that will be.

So, we stay on smoke watch. Back to you.

BERMAN: We're certainly waiting to hear that message. Chris Cuomo in Rome, thanks so much.

We go now to Steubenville, Ohio, stepping back into the national spotlight today. In just a few hours, two star football players from Steubenville's beloved high school football team go on trial for rape. They're charged with assaulting a 16-year-old girl. A friend of the defendants recorded video of the accuser, she'd been drinking. He could be heard calling her, quote, "the dead girl and so raped."

Prosecutors contend she was too drunk to consent to sex. Lawyers for both players deny the allegation. The case is being heard in juvenile court.

SAMBOLIN: A third major carrier is now calling on the TSA to overturn its plans to allow small knives on planes starting next month. American Airlines joins us airways and a flight attendants union in possessing this plan. A bipartisan effort is under way in the House to stop it.

Democratic Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts has introduced the No Knives Act, which is being co-sponsored by Republican Michael Grimm of New York.

BERMAN: Trending this morning, the Boy Scouts of America currently considering lifting their long-standing ban on gays. They sent out a questionnaire to parents and members about the issue. It's more than a simple, should gays be allowed or not? It takes it further. It asks if gay and straight scouts should be allowed to share the same tent, or should an Eagle Scout who comes out be banned?

SAMBOLIN: And also trending, could there really have been life on Mars? Now, we may know.

The Mars rover Curiosity produced a startling discovery in the first robot drilling ever on the Red Planet. A chemical analysis of the powder dug up shows conditions did exist that could have supported life. The mission's chief scientist even said the water that flowed there 3 billion years ago would have been drinkable, Berman.

BERMAN: The truth is out there.

All right. A super sized insect invasion.

SAMBOLIN: We're freaked out by this, this morning. Look at the size of this baby.

BERMAN: Experts say mosquitoes the size of quarters are on the way to south Florida this summer. They're set to feed day and night and they can sting through clothing.


DERBIE CASSEL, BIOLOGIST, USF ST. PETERSBURG: We're used to the little tiny ones that go to the back of your knees and this one is right in your face. It is aggressive. It's got a nasty bite.

This thing is like a pterodactyl in the mosquito world. It's huge.


BERMAN: She seems way too excited about this. SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BERMAN: A bite from the mega mosquito is said to feel like a poke from a knife. Last year's tropical storms are to blame for this invasion.

SAMBOLIN: That's disgusting.

BERMAN: Yes, not at all happy about that.

SAMBOLIN: It sucks.

BERMAN: Too much.

SAMBOLIN: Too much, too much.

One minute, he's playing a relaxing game of golf. The next, he is fighting for his life! There's a guy inside that hole! He was swallowed up by a sinkhole on a golf course.

BERMAN: All right, welcome back to CNN, ladies and gentlemen. We are seeing smoke coming out of the chimney from the Sistine Chapel right now.

SAMBOLIN: It is black smoke.

BERMAN: It certainly does appear to be black smoke, folks, which means there is no pope.

Let's go right now to Chris Cuomo, leading our coverage, live this morning in Rome.

CUOMO: All right we're all seeing what you're seeing here. A little bit on the early side, smoke does look dark. We understand that (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE) is supposed to mean no pope.

They'll come out with a little bit more definitive word. Hopefully, we'll get a little bit sense of it. It looks dark. It's part of the pageantry of all of this is deciphering the signal.

Up against the stark white sky the smoke certainly seems dark. The reaction a little muted from the people in St. Peter's Square -- another indication that there's some type of informal consensus.

But you know, when you look at the smoke, it's not as dark as it was last night. And that's part of the mystery here.

John Allen, Father Edward Beck, alongside with me to share the blame, if I'm wrong about the color of the smoke.

Do you believe in looking at it that it seems of a darker hue?

ALLEN: Well, Chris, bear in mind my expertise as Vatican analysis is not color coding, but it certainly does look black to me. In all probability, you know, as we were talking earlier in the morning, there's only been one time in the last 110 years that a pope has been elected in three ballots. So, it would be highly unusual if they reached a conclusion.

CUOMO: OK, so let's say what this certainly means. What this certainly means at this particular time is that they're voting a little bit more briskly than we had calculated.

Fair assessment?

ALLEN: That's right. It probably means they got an early start and it probably also means that they want to try to move this on as quickly as they can, because, of course, as you know, as we've been talking about, after three ballots they have no pope, OK?

Now, what that tells us is the work is not yet done. I think they probably feel the need to get out of this very formal setting of the Sistine Chapel where they really cannot talk in any informal fashion with one another and get as quickly as they can to the Casa Santa Marta. That's the hotel on Vatican grounds where they're staying, to be able to sort of talk amongst one another in ones and twos and 10s and 20s.

CUOMO: That is more of the traditional politicking and understanding.

ALLEN: That's where the politics of the conclave unfold. Not in the Sistine chapel but in the Casa Santa Marta.

CUOMO: And talking to a Vatican insider this morning, he used this expression that you were helping me understand, (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE) it goes slowly but eventually --

ALLEN: And then the logjam breaks, that's the idea.

CUOMO: So this is about finding those points of pressure, figuring their priorities, Father Beck. What I've been harping on a little bit here this morning, is through three ballots no pope. That means it wasn't simple. It wasn't extraordinarily easy for them?

BECK: We didn't expect it would be. I think if it goes past today, as John has said, all bets are off.

ALLEN: Although we should also remember, Chris, the way this unfolded in 2005, is that we had black smoke at this point on day two of the conclave, as well. What we didn't know is that at that stage, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was just a handful of votes short of the two-thirds majority and in the first ballot of the afternoon he pushed across.

So, for all we know they could be very close or they maybe hopelessly deadlocked.

BECK: Since 1922 no conclave has gone more than four days. We shouldn't expect a real extended (INAUDIBLE).

CUOMO: All right. We're watching the crowd in St. Peters seeming to be moving out little bit. Certainly not people rushing in.

I want to point out the smoke has seemed to have abated there. But the smoke was lighter, and less than it was last night. Maybe they were making a bigger demonstration the first night of the conclave. We can get a little of a sonorous signal here, bells. Bells ring a lot in Rome but bells would be sounded, the big bell, if, in fact, the smoke was white. If, in fact that smoke meant that it was a pope.

But at this point, there's no real urgency to it. Assume as it says on the bottom of your screen, black smoke.

Let's get to St. Peter's Square. Miguel Marquez is there monitoring the situation.

Miguel, was the expectation that this is black smoke that we saw?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, definitely black smoke. And I've been watching that big bell, and it is not moving at all. It takes a few minutes before it actually starts to chime, so clearly this is black smoke. They are still divided. The question is obviously how divided.

I'm here with some students who are studying theology here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a theology major, yes.

MARQUEZ: What do you make of this scene out here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just really exciting to be here. Obviously it's a really good semester to study abroad in Rome. So, it's just a historic time. I love it.

MARQUEZ: You did, indeed. The church has a very big decision to make. Is this bigger than past years?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't really comment on that. But I just know that for me, this is such a moving an amazing experience but I'm so excited for the new pope.

MARQUEZ: But it's always -- it's always a big decision to make, a big decision on the new pope. This year, obviously there's a lot at stake. There's been a lot of issues that the church has had over the years.

Is this -- do you attach more importance to it? Is it more exciting than other years?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's very important and I know that there's a lot of changes that they're talking about like wanting to do. So I think it's a very big decision because it's just a lot of stuff.

MARQUEZ: And how emotional, interesting is it? We're all sitting here smoke obsessed. It's very weird.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I was actually here on the pope's last day, helicopter flew over St. Peter's and that was a really big experience. That really hit me I'm excited to be here. But, like, when I really saw him leaving for the last time, that was really moving.

MARQUEZ: Excited to be here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So excited to be here. It's -- I don't have any words to describe it.

MARQUEZ: I thought you were going to cry there for a second.


MARQUEZ: When the white smoke comes?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When the white smoke comes we'll run from school and when we get the first blessing, that will be when everything is going to be worth it.

MARQUEZ: You were pointing out earlier in 2005, the smoke was kind of weak --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was kind of -- actually commenting on it earlier in class and he was mentioning how they were watching it for 20 minutes, like they couldn't really tell, is it white, is it black? They couldn't tell. But, luckily the bells tipped them off.

MARQUEZ: This year very, very definitive. The oven system or the stove system is new. It's clearly very dramatic when it comes out of that chimney and it's very, very clear the color. The color we haven't seen so far, though, is white. Will it come out sort of gray?

Perhaps, it will look black, but, we're expecting to have a pretty clear sign once it comes, because whatever issues they have with that oven and stove before, they clearly are beyond them, at least on the black side of it. Back to you guys.

CUOMO: All right. Miguel, thank you. And if you're just joining us, welcome to our viewers in America and around the world. We do have smoke, a little on the early side here. We believe it is black smoke meaning that through three ballots, no pope.

I will also mention, if you haven't been watching with us, smoke this time, less than there was last night. It also stopped for a moment and began again. I'm here joined by John Allen, Senior Vatican Analyst for CNN and Father Edward Beck, pastor (ph) priest, CNN contributor.

Let us understand the smoke-making process, la stupa de stove (ph), been used since 1939, you were saying, secondary unit that helps infuse color? How do we account for this staging in smoke coming out?

ALLEN: It could well be, Chris. Remember, they have two rounds of ballots to burn. They did two votes this morning. So, there would be one set of 115 ballots from that first round and another set of 115 ballots plus notes and so on from that second round. This is a relatively small stove.

I mean I remember last time, there were times when we got two bursts of smoke rather than one and the explanation after the fact was they couldn't cram all of the stuff in the first time around so they had to light it up twice. That may well be what we're getting again this morning.

CUOMO: Ballots and notes get burned.

ALLEN: Yes, that's right. There's not supposed to be any written record of what went on inside the Sistine Chapel.

BECK: Last time, we had one ballot. We had all of that smoke, and now, we have two ballots and less smoke.

CUOMO: Yes. I think last night -- remember, they didn't do a formal test of this system before they fired it up the first time last night. So, my suspicion is last night they wanted to be 100 percent sure they were getting it right and they certainly did.

ALLEN: They certainly did.

CUOMO: Voting going more quickly difficult to decipher because it's really somewhat of a very formalized process. So, it doesn't mean that they just knew what they wanted or didn't want very quickly, it's just how quickly the procedure --

ALLEN: No, listen, I would be very hesitant to read much in to how quickly or non-quickly this thing unfolded. I mean, the voting is very carefully choreographed process. It's not just raising your hands. You know, each cardinal fills out a ballot, he then processes up to a table in front of Michelangelo's fresco of the last judgment, deposits it in an urn.

A bank of three cardinals counts, another bank of three cardinals confirms the count, but, you know, that could be 40 minutes, that could be an hour, it can be more depending upon the rhythm of the morning's experience (ph). It doesn't necessarily mean they're either pressing to a conclusion or they're miles away from -- the truth is, Chris, we don't know.

CUOMO: To be sure, they're now going to a place where they can talk and get amongst themselves. And certainly, Father Beck, they've got a lot to discuss, because this is something, really, they have to get right.

BECK: And they will do that at lunch. As John said, that's where the real conversation takes place.

ALLEN: What do you think about vote this morning? That really is the potential for somebody to lead us, and they'll talk about all those things. I'm interested in the votes (ph). Don't forget, then someone takes a threaded needle, takes each vote (INAUDIBLE), I vote, they put the threaded needle through. They bind it together and that's when they burn it.

CUOMO: And now, as they go to lunch, they start talking, through three ballots, no panic, means nothing historically for them to not have a pope through three ballots, right? ALLEN: No.

CUOMO: Pope Benedict was on the fourth ballot, right?

ALLEN: This is the 10th conclave in the last century and changed. In those 10 -- in the previous nine, there was only one time a pope was elected on the third ballot, it was 1939. And so, there is nothing unusual about the fact that we do not have a pope through three rounds of voting. And remember, Chris, it's about new local -- they don't go back into the Sistine Chapel until around four o'clock this afternoon.

So, they've got a good sort of poll of time here in which they cannot only have a meal, but they can move off into various rooms, salons, so forth in the Casa Santa Marta and do what we would call in secular political art, caucusing. You know, find out where --


BECK: (INAUDIBLE), too, though.

ALLEN: Yes, yes. And also take a nap --

CUOMO: A lot of tease men are older.

BECK: Yes.

CUOMO: And this is a taxing process for them, to be sure.

ALLEN: On the other hand, I think many of them would probably believe they can catch up on their sleep when they have a pope. Right now, there's work to do.

CUOMO: And what do we think in terms of in this period, the meal is together or they allowed to eat as they want?

ALLEN: It's a large ding room in the Casa Santa Marta, and all the cardinals will move in to that room. And they typically sit at large tables. Actually, several of the cardinals who I interviewed after the 2005 conclave will tell you that the real sort of nuts and bolts, brass tacks political conversation doesn't go on in that lunch room because everyone can hear you. I mean, it's a group conversation.

So, after about an hour, when they break up for lunch, then they'll move back into their rooms or some of these small salons or meeting rooms in the Casa Santa Marta in small groups and that's where the ball gets moved in terms of the --

CUOMO: All right. So, to wrap it up, we have three votes. We have black smoke. That means no pope. They now go on to lunch. They now have time to talk for (ph) several hours to do that. And certainly, John and Zoraida, back to you in New York. They need to get this right. It's been the biggest decision this church has made in modern history.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely, Chris, and it does continue. We have black smoke today. ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: I know it's the highest office, right, but there's so much at stake that I wonder, you know, what's going through the cardinals' minds if they could be the one facing all of these monumental challenges in the Roman Catholic Church.

BERMAN: And there's so much anticipation now as they go to lunch. Something so simple as lunch, and then, they go back into the Sistine Chapel to vote again this afternoon. You will want to stay with us. It is a very, very interesting. EARLY START will be right back.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. We are on day two of the papal conclave. You're taking a look at the chimney there at the Sistine Chapel where we are seeing black smoke. We're going to go right out to Chris Cuomo. He is there live. And we understand you have confirmation of the black smoke.

CUOMO: We do. We do. Zoraida, John, as it says on the bottom of your screen right now, the Vatican has confirmed this is what it looks like, black smoke. More importantly, of course, is what it could mean to the ongoing process. Joined, of course, by Anderson Cooper, John Allen, our senior Vatican analyst.

Does the super Tuesday metaphor hold for where they could be in this process with three no pope votes?

ALLEN: Well, bear in mind, Chris, the only people who really know what this vote means are the 115 cardinals who cast the ballots. But, you know, one way to sort of try to make sense of it all is what we know for sure is that they have not yet -- nobody has crossed the two- thirds threshold of 77 votes as of the third ballot.

Now, that could mean there's someone whose support has steadily grown over the first three ballots, looks like they're about to get across the top, and we could get a pope this afternoon. It could mean that those 115 votes are still scattered across two, three, maybe even four possible candidates, and there's going to be an awful lot of heavy lifting to be done over this lunch break to try to figure out where they go from here.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And you actually interviewed a lot of the cardinals eight years -- after the vote eight years ago, and in that case, how did the voting go?

ALLEN: Well, what we know is that right out of the gate -- this time, they went in the evening before, they took one ballot. We know that at that stage, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had strong support depending upon which reconstructing you'd accept (ph), somewhere between 40 and 50 votes on that first ballot.

The first two ballots of the next morning, his support continued to grow, and by that third ballot, he was basically three or four votes away from the two-thirds majority. By that stage, his candidacy had the inevitability about him. And basically, what cardinals told me was that lunch was a celebration. I mean, they knew they had a pope. All they had to do was go back in in the afternoon and make it formal.

COOPER: And so now, during lunch, it's about a three-hour lunch, they'll be breaking off, will they be breaking off into smaller groups to kind of --

ALLEN: Well, it depends, Anderson, on where things stand. If someone is very close to that two-thirds majority, it may be a repeat of last time. If no one is, if it got two or three candidates who all have strong support, then yeas, they're going to be breaking into small groups, organized by language, by friendship, by interests, trying to figure out which one of those three guys might be able to make it across the top or if none of them can, going back to the drawing board and looking for somebody else.


CUOMO: -- for sure, of course, as the smoke. We'll continue to watch the afternoon session, and in terms of who's in the hunt. From the last time, the man who supposedly finished second, Cardinal Bergoglio, not really even being mentioned this time. So, it could all be up in the air. Back to you in New York, John and Zoraida.

BERMAN: All right. Chris, thank you so much. EARLY START will be back right after the break.


BERMAN: All right. Thanks so much for joining us, everyone. That is all for EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. "Starting Point" with Soledad O'Brien starts right now.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Welcome, everybody. Our "Starting Point" this morning, it's black smoke and that means no pope. Black smoke billowing there from the chimney at the Sistine Chapel just happened minutes ago. And that means that cardinals have not yet picked a pope.

But could we see white smoke a little bit later today? We're live in Rome and at the Vatican for you this morning.

Then, an intense manhunt is over. Police have a man in custody. He's accused of murdering his grandparents right after they picked him up from prison. We'll have developing details in just moments.

BERMAN: Fire on the water. A tugboat hits a natural gas pipeline sending at least two to the hospital. We'll have the details coming up.

And imagine standing on a golf course when an 18-foot hole opens up right beneath you. This really happened to a guy who was rescued by his friends. And better yet, he joins us live with this amazing story.

O'BRIEN: It's Wednesday, March 13th, and "Starting Point" begins right now.

Welcome, everybody. Our "Starting Point" this morning, that black smoke that's rising once again from the Sistine Chapel. It happened just moments ago. You can see the pictures there. And it is a signal from the 115 cardinal electors that they still have not selected a new pope.