Popealarm.com, from the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, lets eager Vatican watchers sign up for a text or e-mail alert that will go out as soon as a decisive ballot is cast. Their slogan? "When the smoke goes up, you'll know what's going down."
Catholics around the world are watching the roof of the Vatican again to learn if their church has a new pope. If they see black smoke, that means the church's cardinals still haven't decided. White smoke and bells signal that a pope has been chosen.
One name has been "retired." Others have never been reused. John is the most popular. It's a tradition going back to the year 533 that a new pope chooses a name other than the one he was born with. He's likely sending a message about what type of leader he hopes to be.
In the Sistine Chapel, cardinals will begin voting. It takes the votes of two-thirds (77 cardinals) to become pope. If no one gets that many on the first ballot, the cardinals will be "busy murmuring in each others' ears over coffee and pasta" as they form alliances, NPR's Sylvia Poggioli says.
The task of choosing the next pope falls to 115 red-robed cardinals, known by the faithful as the "princes" of the Catholic Church. Their average age is 72 — and they are all men. We examine how they came to have this massive responsibility, and how some Catholics resent their exclusive monopoly over electing pontiffs.
As the conclave to select a new pope gets under way at the Vatican, what do American Catholics want from the next pontiff? Renee Montagne speaks with Greg Smith of the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life about their most recent survey.
The Mass before the conclave, the homily, the procession of cardinals into the Sistine Chapel, and the command "extra omnes" ("everyone out" — except the Cardinals). Steve Inskeep speaks with NPR's Sylvia Poggioli about the papal conclave.
When you give to WAMU, your tax-deductible membership gift helps make possible award-winning programs such as Morning Edition, All Things Considered, The Diane Rehm Show, The Kojo Nnamdi Show, and other favorites.