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Papal Conclave 2013 Begins: Celebration and Protests

Josh Elliott, Cecilia Vega report on the ancient Vatican ritual.
5:54 | 03/12/13

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Transcript for Papal Conclave 2013 Begins: Celebration and Protests
rome.Welcome to a special editi of "world news." And behind me, st. Peter's basilica, the vatican, the end of the day, bursting with history, majesty, and just hours ago, a first message to the world from the cardinals, black smoke, lots of black smoke, signaling no pope, not yet. And right now, the cardinals are back in their quarters after taking the solemn vows in front of 1.2 billion catholics watching from around the world. The last we saw them today, the word ending this sacred and secret ritual. Extra omenes. Which means everybody out, as the doors of the sistine chapel were closed. All day, the square outside of st. Peter's, a sea of umbrellas, as the faithful undeterred by the cold and rain, came to watch. And josh elliott reports from there tonight. ♪ Reporter: Diane, it was a rainy day here in rome, but it couldn't dampen the pageantry of this first day of the conclave, it was a day that started with ceremony and solemn prayer and as ever, anticipation. As the rain fell, the crowds packed st. Peter's square, looking sky ward for the results of today's first papal votes. Then the dense black smoke rose. Indicating there was no con senn us yet. Just hours before, those 115 voting cardinals entered today's final mass, perhaps sneaking in some last conversations before heading to the conclave. Sean o'malley, took the time to sit alone, in prayer. One by one, the cardinals walked down the aisle before taking individual oaths to obey the rules of the conclave, which demand the utmost secrecy. If they ever break their silence, they risk excommunication. Cardinal dolan, now thought to be a considerable contender, gave a final dispatch before heading into the conclave himself. It's a unique, special morning. Reporter: The last words we'll hear from him for a while. Extra omenes. Reporter: Everyone out, and with that, the doors closed, the work of choosing a pope would truly begin. There's a sanctity in the air that they're trying to see who does it belong to, among these 115 cardinals? Who is the person who is holy? And that's the toughest judgement of all. And when the world sees white smoke, inside the sistine chapel they'll ask the newly elected pope if he accepted the result. And if he does, he is from t moment, the new pope and chooses the name he will then be called. Next, he walks to the nearby "room of tears," so called because some newly elected popes have in the past, cried there, as they absorb the enormity of the moment. He then dons his new robes, puts the papeel ring on his finger and is led down the hall of the blessings to the st. Peter's basilica. Where he is introduced to the masses with a simple latin phrase, habemus papam. We have a pope. If history is any indication how long this will take, none of the former conclaves lasted more than three days. But keep in mind, the last conclave to go more than five days took 50 days. Everyone had to pack a lot of bags then. Thanks so much, josh. Cecilia vega was also moving through the crowds in st. Peter's today and found something to boast about. Reporter: As one of the catholic church's holiest rituals went on inside, outside a moment of chaos. Just steps away from st. Peter's basilica, these women took their tops off to protest what they call patriarchy in the church. They m their match with vatican police. Authorities pounced and police shoved away the media. Security is on high alert with thousands of pilgrims packed into this holy site. ♪ many of those pilgrims started their day in prayer at this mass to send the cardinals on their way. For hours, people waited outside to get a spot here in st. Peter's basilica, just to catch a glimpse of one of these men who are walking down the aisle today, one of them will be the next pope. Other braved rome's pouring rain, waiting for that single smokey sign. Some coming all the way from the united states like tanya guerrero from texas. I think it's amazing to be a part of it. Reporter: Even among the devoted, there are always for reform on everything from the church's handling of the sex abuse scandal, to allowing female priests and greater transparency. The sex abuse scandal has been going on forever. Reporter: When you think of women and their role in the catholic church, where do you feel women stand? Not as high. Not as high. ♪ Reporter: For many here, there is hope that the next leader of the catholic church will bring change. And the proters we saw today were detained by police, making for a very intense moment in what was otherwise a peaceful day. Pilgrims from europe, latin america, asia, they were singing and cheering, rooting for the cardinals from their own country. It felt like a little bit of a soccer match out there. Cecilia, thanks so much. I want to turn now to father

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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