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Vatican: Bells Will Also Announce Election of New Pope

The Vatican has announced that, for the first time ever, church officials will ring bells, along with sending white plumes of smoke, to announce the election of a new pope.

Archbishop Piero Marini, master of ceremonies for liturgical celebrations, gestures during a press conference at the Vatican
Archbishop Piero Marini, who is responsible for liturgical celebrations, joked that this way, even journalists will know for sure that a pope has been chosen.

Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church hold a meeting called a conclave to elect a pope. Their ballots are burned after voting, and white smoke coming out of the chimney of the Sistine Chapel means they have agreed on a new pontiff, while black smoke means they have not.

But in 1978, the smoke from the chimney was gray, instead of black, causing confusion as to whether a new pope had been selected.

Officials will now burn the ballots with additives to ensure the colors are unmistakable. The cardinals also will have more comfortable quarters during the process than in the past, and will be allowed to walk about Vatican City instead of being locked in the vicinity of the Sistine Chapel where they vote.

The conclave must begin between 15 to 20 days after the death of a pope.

The term conclave is derived from a Latin word meaning locked together, symbolizing the isolation of the cardinals during the election process.

Cardinals must be under the age of 80 to participate, making 117 of 183 current cardinals eligible. The proceedings must be kept secret, and anyone who violates that rule is to be excommunicated from the Church.

Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.