(VATICAN CITY) -- Black smoke emerging from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel Wednesday morning indicated that the 115 cardinal electors of the Roman Catholic Church failed to elect a pope in their second vote.
The cardinals started the conclave on Tuesday afternoon, but black smoke emerged from the chapel's chimney a few hours afterwards, signaling that no candidate had received the two-thirds majority -- 77 votes -- needed for election.
With such a wide open conclave, the failure to pick the next pontiff on the first day did not come as a surprise.
"As the votes go on, a certain clarity usually arrives," Fr. John Wauck, a U.S. priest living in Rome, told ABC News. "No one said electing a pope was going to be easy."
However, a key cardinal from the United States voiced optimism that a decision would be made soon. Before the conclave began, Cardinal Timothy Dolan said in a letter to his priests in New York that he believed a successor to the retired Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI would be picked by Thursday evening.
Dolan himself is viewed as a potential candidate to become the next pope, as is fellow American Cardinal Sean O'Malley from Boston. But there has never been an American pope or any pope from outside of Europe. Other candidates viewed as potential frontrunners are cardinals Angelo Scola of Italy, Marc Ouellet of Canada, Peter Erdo of Hungary and Odilo Scherer of Brazil.
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