Spokane Catholics keeping close eye on conclave

Published On: Mar 12 2013 05:25:40 PM PDT   Updated On: Mar 12 2013 07:00:34 PM PDT
Inside the papal conclave
SPOKANE, Wash. -

Black smoke billowed from the Sistine Chapel Tuesday, meaning there was no selection of a new pope on the first day of the Catholic conclave at the Vatican.

Experts say the first vote is already having an impact as the cardinals share dinner at their isolated temporary home within the Vatican walls, now narrowing the field as the world watches the chimney with excitement for the first sight of white smoke.

Closer to home, there are thousands of Catholics in Spokane, watching this process very closely wondering who the next man will be to lead their church.

Bishop Blase Cupich may be watching more closely than anyone else as the pope will be, essentially, his new boss. Cupich said Tuesday's quick vote and the black smoke are proof that this is something of a wide-open race. There has been no clear favorite heading into the conclave.

Cupich said he's not pulling for one man, but is confident the cardinals will make the right decision.

"I will rejoice whoever it is when they say we have a pope. I do know a number of the people who are being considered, so it will be nice if it's someone that I know. Otherwise, I look forward to getting to know them even more," Cupich said.

Bishop Cupich said it's important to remember, while one man will lead the church, the church is more than one man. He added that Pope Benedict's resignation is proof the pope is replaceable. How long that will take, however, remains to be seen.