Tuesday, April 19, 2005


VATICAN CITY - White smoke poured from a chimney at the Vatican and bells tolled on Tuesday evening, announcing to the world that a new pope was elected in the first papal conclave of the new millennium.

Crowds in St. Peter's Square chanted: "Viva il Papa!" or "Long live the pope!"

"It's only been 24 hours, surprising how fast he was elected," Vatican Radio said, commenting on how the new pope was chosen on the conclave's second day.

It was one of the fastest elections in the past century: Pope Pius XII was elected in 1939 in three ballots on one day, while Pope John Paul II was elected in 1978 in four ballots in one day. John Paul II's successor was elected after either four or five ballots over two days.

More pilgrims poured into St. Peter's Square, and the bells kept ringing 10 minutes after the original tolling. Pilgrims said the rosary as they awaited the name of the new pope, and prelates stood on the roof of the Apostolic Palace, watching as the crowd nearly doubled.

The bells rang at 6:04 p.m. (12:04 p.m. EDT) ending confusion over the smoke signal that had risen from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. White smoke is used to announce the election of a new pope, along with the ringing of bells, which was added for this conclave.

The world awaited the formal announcement of the new pope, to be made on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica by Chilean Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estivez.

Niels Hendrich, a 40-year-old salesman from Hamburg, Germany, jumped up and down with joy and called his father on a cell phone. "Habemus papam!" he shouted into the phone, using the Latin for: "We have a pope."

Antoinette Hastings, from Kent Island, Md., rose from her wheelchair, grasping her hands together and crying. She has artificial knees, making it tough to stand.

"I feel blessed, absolutely blessed," she said. "I just wish the rest of my family were here to experience this with me."

The 265th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church succeeds John Paul II, who died April 2 at age 84 after gaining extraordinary popularity over a 26-year pontificate, history's third-longest papacy. Millions mourned him around the world in a tribute to his charisma.


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