VATICAN CITY -- Cardinals remained divided over who should be pope on Wednesday after three rounds of voting, an indication of disagreements about the direction of the Catholic church following the upheaval unleashed by Pope Benedict XVI's surprise resignation.
In the second day of the conclave, thick black smoke billowed from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, prompting sighs of disappointment from the thousands of people gathered in a rain-soaked and chilly St. Peter's Square.
"I'm not happy to see black smoke. We all want white," said the Rev. ThankGod Okoroafor, a Nigerian priest studying theology at Holy Cross University in Rome. "But maybe it means that the cardinals need to take time, not to make a mistake in the choice."
Cardinals voted twice Wednesday morning in the Vatican's famed frescoed Sistine Chapel following an inaugural vote Tuesday to elect a successor to Benedict XVI, who stunned the Catholic world last month by becoming the first pope in 600 years to resign.
The cardinals broke for lunch at the Vatican hotel and planned another two rounds of voting Wednesday afternoon.
The drama - with stage sets by Michelangelo and an outcome that is anyone's guess - is playing out against the backdrop of the church's need both for a manager who can clean up a corrupt Vatican bureaucracy and a pastor who can revive Catholicism in a time of growing secularism.
The difficulty in finding both attributes in one man, some analysts say, means that the world should brace for a long conclave - or at least one longer than the four ballots it took to elect Benedict in 2005.
"We have not had a conclave over five days since 1831," noted the Rev. Thomas Reese, author of "Inside the Vatican," a bible of sorts for understanding the Vatican bureaucracy. "So if they are in there over five days, we know they are in trouble; they are having a hard time forming consensus around a particular person."
The names mentioned most often as "papabile" - a cardinal who has the stuff of a pope - include Cardinal Angelo Scola, the archbishop of Milan, an intellect in the vein of Benedict but with a more outgoing personality, and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Canadian head of the Vatican's important bishops' office who is also scholarly but reserved like Benedict.