Black smoke poured from the Sistine Chapel's vaunted chimney again this morning, signalling that the second and third rounds of voting from the 115 cardinals gathered inside had failed to yield a pope. Two more rounds await the cardinals this afternoon, reports the AP, and voting will resume after lunch. The votes take place in silence, adds the BBC, with no debate allowed; if there's no consensus after three days, however, the cardinals may take a daylong break for prayer and informal discussion.
The continued stalemate comes amid another black eye for the Church, and a reminder of the deep challenges the next pope will face, adds Reuters. The Los Angeles Archdiocese yesterday settled four sex-abuse lawsuits involving a single pedophile priest for $10 million; named in the suit was Cardinal Roger Mahony, who is alleged to have covered the priest's abuse. Mahony, who retired from leading the LA diocese in 2011, is currently in the Sistine Chapel voting on the new pontiff. Meanwhile, President Obama weighed in on the conclave in an interview airing this morning, reports Politico. "It seems to me that an American pope would preside just as effectively as a Polish pope or an Italian pope or a Guatemalan pope," he said. Asked about perceptions that an American pontiff might be beholden to the Oval Office, Obama wryly responded, “I don't know if you’ve checked lately, but the Conference of Catholic Bishops here in the United States don't seem to be takin' orders from me." (Read more papal conclave stories.)