The Cycle | March 12, 2013
>> everyone out. and with that the election of the 266th pope has begun. only in "the cycle," does the nonbeliever lead our coverage. the 115 cardinals are now enjoying dinner after the first day of the papal conclave . they've already voted once but the smoke was black meaning no new pope and back at it tomorrow morning . with the rainy weather expected to last a few days, there is concern it might be hard to make out the smoke's color. so just in case, the vatican will also toll bells when the pope is selected. there will be four votes tomorrow and every day following until a new pope is in place. he will need a super majority of 77 votes. he'll then pick his new name, change into the traditional white vestment, of course, pray for a ploem and then be introduced over the balcony on st. peter's scare to call habemus papam . how long will we wait? the shortest was only a few hours in 1503 . steve remembers that. the longest took nearly three years. that was back in the 12th century .
>> toure remembers that.
>> the nine most recent conclaves averaged about three days. msnbc's chris jansing is in vatican city . you also covered the 2005 conclave that elected benedict xvi . describe the pomp and circumstance of today and leading up to this?
>> reporter: well, first, let me say, few do pomp and circumstance as well as the catholic church . but look where we are. if you look behind me, the spectacular dome of st. peter's basilica. that's where the cardinals started their day. not just the 115 voting cardinals but those over 80 as well because they had mass this morning. it just looks absolutely spectacular. then they have that polling chapel which is gorgeous and then they progress into the sistine chapel , one of michelangelo's master pieces. and they are looking at the altar which is underneath the last judgment which again, another work of really unparalleled art. so the pomp and circumstance has been extraordinary. and we saw them one by one, all 115 of them go out to the bible and to swear, not just to secrecy but to fidelity, to the oath that they're about to take. and once they all made that oath, they close those magnificent doors. they are sealed. and it took them about two hours, two hours of voting. they do it one by one. each of those ballots is folded lengthwise. each is looked at by three different people. two of them silently. the third one announces them. and so that entire process is go through when they finish announcing the ballot, they poke a hole through it. they have to count them. but now it is clear there is no pope today. and can i just tell you as a veteran of the last conclave where we kept saying, is it white? is it black? it looks gray. there was no doubt about this. maybe the vatican was tired of all the jokes over the last eight years and said, we're going to put enough chemicals in there that we are going to make sure we know what the color is. although you wonder, one of our an lists was saying i hope it is not all filling up the sistine chapel because there is so much of it. it is very different than it was eight years ago.
>> cool. your coverage has been great. stick around for us. i want to bring in nbc news vatican analyst, deep reform in the 21st century church. so george, talk to me for a second about one of the front-runners, angelo scola of milan. what would it say if the cardinals selected an italian pope and one that you say is sort of the current model of pope? university professor turned bishop turned pope.
>> i think it would say that the italian veto which may be in work in this process this time, has been overcome. there is a real feeling of anti-italian sentiment in this conclave because of the difficulties in the vatican bureaucracy. so scola would have to overcome that. he is, as you say, in the model of john paul ii and benedict xvi . as he colonel evening joseph ratsinger and with one of his colleagues from quebec. the former archbishop of quebec, the prefect for bishops here. so scola would be in my view a kind of continuity figure. perhaps that's what the cardinals are looking for. i think he'll have a pretty good run tomorrow. whether he can get to the magic 77, i'm not so sure.
>> lets talk about two other people who have been discussed as potentially toward the front of the pack. the american sean o'malley and peter.
>> the candidacy of the cardinal, a man i consider a friend, is a complete media creation. it has no traction in reality in this conclave. cardinal o'malley on the other hand has some real support from latin america . he spent a lot of time in latin america . what support he gets in the following days will be led by his supporters in latin america .
>> chris, we've been hearing about these blocks and factions in the internal politics. how does this actually work? do the cardinals go in undecided? have some of them decided? some of them not? is there actual politicking and strategizing going on?
>> reporter: well, the politicking you would think, which is, i guess, technically frowned upon but definitely happens. is mostly over. i think what a lot of people don't understand, when they go into the sistine chapel , it is not like you're having a debate. it is not like you're standing up and giving a speech. what happens inside the sistine chapel is that you vote. however, now that they're heading out of the sistine chapel and they go back, they have a chance to talk about it. and remember, the votes have been announced. they know exactly how many votes each of these cardinals received. and so they're starting to talk. and there is no doubt that they've started to form sort of groups or alliances, whatever phrase you want to put on it. that could be in some ways geographic but not necessarily so. you can't say for example that all the european cardinals are of like mind. they have a chance to talk to each other and you realize how fluid it can get. when they're in there, they have an opportunity to size up what is going on. but not until they're out and back at the hotel that is on the vatican property. they have a chance to assess where it's going and how they might like to move forward. so it is a fascinating process. and we'll probably know maybe some months or years down the road what happened. but while it's happening, they are under penalty of excommunication. so we do not expect to hear anything leaking out of the conclave.
>> that's quite a threat. you're going to hell if you talk to the media. chris, i wonder, what has the mood been around there in terms of benedict? this is the first time in hundreds of years that the former pope is still alive and is still around for a vote as a successor is taking place. has he been a factor? do you think he is a factor in this vote in any way?
>> he is a factor in the sense that 67 of these cardinals were appointed by him. so he has actually made his mark on who will be the next pope. in terms of actually intervening, not at all. it is something that he has said very clearly he wouldn't do. although we did get word today that he was actually following the election. so you have this vision of him sitting channel surfing . i'm not sure that is an accurate assessment of what's going on but he wanted to be very clear that now he is going to lead a very private life . a very prayerful life. there was some controversy. some pictures surfaced of him in a baseball cap walking through gardens with a long lens as if he were brangelina or something like that. so he has said he would and he has up until this point kept an extremely low profile . his influence is being felt simply by the fact that he appointed a majority of the these cardinals who are in that conclave.
>> well, chris jansing , george weigel , we know you'll be watching and keeping us posted so thank you very much.
>>> straight ahead, paul ryan is out with his new budget. i think i hear the sound of the left sharpening a thousand pitch forks. the cycle rolls on. let's look at rome. there and here we wish for better weather.