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Conclave Begins To Select New Pope
UPDATE 1:45 p.m.: Black smoke from Vatican chimney signals first vote by cardinals fails to select a new pope.
VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Conclave to elect new pope began today amid crisis in Catholic church.
The doors to the Sistine Chapel closed at 11:45 a.m. Austin time.
Led by prelates holding a crucifix and candles, the 115 scarlet-robed cardinals chanted the Litany of Saints, the hypnotic Gregorian chant imploring the intercession of the saints to help them choose the next pope. They then took their places in the chapel frescoed by Michelangelo with scenes of "Creation" and "The Last Judgment."
The conclave begins amid deep divisions and uncertainty over who will lead the 1.2 billion-strong Catholic church and tend to its many problems.
Benedict XVI's surprise resignation has thrown the church into turmoil and exposed deep divisions among cardinals grappling with whether they need a manager to clean up the Vatican's dysfunctional bureaucracy or a pastor who can inspire Catholics at a time of waning faith.
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