White smoke emerged from a chimney atop the Sistine Chapel and bells pealed in Vatican City Wednesday evening, signaling that a new pope has been chosen to lead the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.
The 115 voting members of the College of Cardinals elected a successor to 85-year-old Pope Benedict, who resigned last month saying he did not have the strength to carry out his papal duties.
The candidate had to receive two-thirds of the vote, or 77 ballots, to be chosen to lead the Church.
The cardinals took an initial vote Tuesday. As expected, the first vote did not produce a decision but may have produced a slate of frontrunners. A vote Wednesday morning was also inconclusive.
The 115 scarlet-robed "princes of the church" swore an oath of secrecy requiring, under pain of excommunication, that they would reveal nothing of their deliberations for the duration of the secret conclave.