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Local Vatican experts believe frontrunner may have emerged

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

At DePaul's Center for World Catholicism, Vatican experts were expecting the black smoke that signaled no Pope had been elected in Tuesday's first round of voting, but a frontrunner may have emerged.

Experts at America's largest Catholic University say that frontrunner was likely the focus of politicking that continued late into the evening.

SEE: Black smoke from chapel chimney: No pope yet

"Tonight, the cardinal-electors will go back to the Casa Santa Marta. They'll have a nice dinner. Maybe they'll have an espresso afterwards. Small groups will form," Professor Peter Casarella explains. "They'll discuss the vote amongst themselves. Maybe they'll criticize the leading candidate. Maybe they'll support the leading candidate. But when they go back tomorrow, they're scheduled to have four votes."

Four rounds of voting was all it took 8 years ago to elect as Germany's Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger--an early frontrunner—as pope. Like the retired pope, Vienna-born Alexander Stummvoll is a native German-speaker. He recently lived in Rome and wrote a book about the often murky world of Vatican politics.

"I think if it's decided tomorrow, it will almost certainly be one of the frontrunners," Stummvoll says.

He and Peter Casarella, of DePaul's Center for World Catholicism, have met the frontrunners, including Milan's Cardinal Angelo Scola, a man they describe as a visionary intellectual. He started the Oasis Foundation, dedicated to a dialog between Catholics and Muslims.

The election of Sao Paulo, Brazil's Cardinal Odilo Scherer, while of German ethnic descent, might electrify the 42% of the planet's Catholics who live in Latin America. Quebec, Canada's Cardinal Marc Ouellet would be the first North American pope. Some praise his compassionate concern for victims of priestly sex abuse in Canada, Ireland and elsewhere.

The cardinal-electors resume their work after an early breakfast.

"There will be Mass at 8:15 and the second round of voting will start at 9:30," Stummvoll explains.

Choice of name gives us the first clue as to what a new pope intends his legacy to be. The scholars at DePaul offer a suggestion of Pope Leo XIV.

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