Black Smoke Above Sistine Chapel After First Papal Vote

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Black Smoke Signals No Pope Yet

"My jaw would drop so much I'd need reconstructive surgery after it hits the cobblestones in the piazza," he said.

Nalty admits that the U.S. cardinals are causing a stir in Rome.

"The Americans have let their personalities shine," he said. "And I think that's getting people to talk about them. Whether it's getting the other cardinals to talk about them, that's another thing. That's for the inside of the conclave."

Whoever is elected will have to confront a slew of issues facing the church, from the sexual abuse scandals - epitomized just last month by the resignation of Scotland's cardinal - to the report into the Vatileaks scandal that will be given only to the next pope.

There is an old saying in Rome: he who enters conclave as pope exits as a cardinal, meaning that cardinal can't really campaign for the job and that frontrunners often don't win.

In the coming days, possibly as soon as this evening, the world will find out who has indeed exited as pope.

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