A new era for the Catholic Church dawned this week as Pope Francis began his first day as Holy Father on Thursday. This morning, Pope Francis meets with the College of Cardinals, the group elected him, and those cardinals over the age of 80 who were not involved in conclave.
Many have speculated the direction in which the new pope may lead the church, and his first mass yesterday gave some clues. In his homily, Pope Francis hinted at the church's struggles and delivered a strong message to the cardinals: Reject worldliness, be true to the gospel message, and rebuild the church on a strong foundation...or it will come down like "sandcastles on the beach."
Father Thomas Rosica is the Vatican's Deputy Spokesperson. He knows Pope Francis personally and shares his insight on the Holy Father’s first days in office. Father Rosica says Pope Francis is just continuing to perform as he did as Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina. “He was a pastor there, very close to the people. And he's continued that,” Father Rosica says. “He's simply changed the color of his robes right now."
Father Rosica also shares what kind of leadership to expect from Pope Francis and why the cardinals chose him. He says Pope Francis’s papacy is “about taking the gospel to the people” and the cardinals believe he has the ability to do that. “They chose someone who has an extraordinary record for compassion, for relating to people not just those within the Catholic Church, those who are good Catholics,” Father Rosica says, “but especially those on the fringes, the poor, the destitute, the disenfranchised, those living in irregular relationships, those who have suffered, those who have brought suffering upon themselves.”
Father Rosica also addresses the controversies facing the church which many expect Pope Francis to reform. Father Rosica says the papacy is beyond that and not about widening the church or addressing the particular agendas of different countries. “The pope is elected because he's the pastor of a world church."
All eyes are on Sistine Chapel chimney this morning. Millions are watching for a smoke signal from the 115 cardinals voting inside. Chris Cuomo is live in Rome with the latest.
The cardinals' second or third ballots this morning show an inconclusive vote as black smoke billows from the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel. A new Holy Father to lead the world's 1.2 billion Catholics has not yet been selected.
Right now, the world is focusing on a thin copper chimney above the Sistine Chapel. At any moment, it could show white smoke and signal the election of a new pope. Yesterday and earlier this morning, black smoke signaled that the 115 cardinal electors had failed to choose the Catholic Church's next spiritual leader.
After black smoke emerged Wednesday, the cardinals will return for an afternoon voting session beginning at 11amET, and at 12:30pmET all eyes will then be back on the Sistine Chapel chimney, awaiting another smoke signal from the cardinals.
Chris Cuomo sets the scene from Rome on "Early Start" this morning.
Today marks the second day of the secret papal election known as conclave. The cardinals are voting right now as millions around the world watch the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel for the white smoke signal indicating that a new Holy Father has been chosen.
CNN Senior Vatican Analyst John Allen and CNN Contributor Father Edward Beck are following the latest live in Rome with Chris Cuomo. Allen describes the importance of the vote today now that the cardinals have a better grasp of the candidates. “Today becomes what we Americans would think of as Super Tuesday, because it's the make-or-break day for the front-runners,” he says.
Father Beck describes the two things people have told him they desire in a candidate. “One is they want a reformer. Not only if you think of reforming as sexual abuse and cleaning house, but people have seen there's been mismanagement at the top,” Beck says. “So, they want a reformation of that organization. Secondly, they say we want someone who can communicate to the masses. They long for John Paul II again, who can stand up on a world stage and elicit excitement about the church, about the vision of the church, and someone who can inspire youth once again as well.”
History is in the making in Rome, Italy today. Today marks the second day of the papal election. We may see white smoke emerge from the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel, indicating a new pontiff has been chosen.
Many Americans are making the pilgrimage to Rome to witness the moment live at the Vatican. Miguel Marquez speaks to two American Catholic students on watch for the smoke signal.
Both active in the Catholic church, Nora and Victoria share their feelings about the significance of being present for this conclave.
"It's such an exciting experience and it's part of history, and just to say that I was here for a new election of a new pope is amazing," Nora says.
“It's very important," Victoria says. "The pope is the leader of our church, and he's such a model, so we really need someone who is strong an and who can lead us.”
Preparations, both spiritual and practical, neared completion at the Vatican on Monday, where Roman Catholic cardinals will gather to begin the process of selecting the next pope.
The conclave - the secret papal election - begins Tuesday in the Sistine Chapel, which has been closed to the public while Vatican staff readied the ornately decorated vestry for deliberations.
The first public signs of preparations appeared over the weekend as workmen scaled the roof of the chapel on Saturday to install the chimney which will release the black or white smoke that signifies whether a new pope has been elected.
This morning on "Early Start," CNN's Miguel Marquez reports live from Rome on the final preps before the first vote in the papal conclave.