The Roman Catholic Church’s cardinal electors will enter the Sistine Chapel at 4:30 p.m. Rome time (11:30 EDT) Tuesday to begin the process of choosing a new pope.
• THE PRESS Members of the press will comfortably outnumber cardinals at the conclave. The Pontifical Council for Social Communications from the Holy See says more than 5,000 print reporters (“stampa”) have temporary accreditation.
Fino ad oggi accrediti temporanei: 5076STAMPA 608FOTO 259TV 3597RADIO 395WEB 217Accrediti permanenti:FOTO 57TV 201
— VaticanCommunication (@PCCS_VA) March 11, 2013
Among them is Cathleen Falsani, the OC Register’s new faith columnist. Falsani’s first item of business in Rome? A Twitter hat tip to Vatiblogger Rocco Palmo, who is covering the conclave from Philly.
Not accredited: “Vatileaks” journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi.
Bob Cullen draws lessons from covering the Soviet Politburo in 1985 for Newsweek and warns against “Pontiffication” by reporters who have to fill time.
Another problem: The Italian press. Tom McGeveran speaks with Washington Post reporter Jason Horowitz, who is covering the conclave. Horowitz says the American press gathered in Rome are dependent on their Italian counterparts, many of whom Horowitz says “are not sourced, and you don’t have the feeling that they actually know anything.” I spoke with John Allen of The National Catholic Reporter last month, who told me that while the Italian press has its charms, “A passion for factual accuracy is not among them.”
• THE CHIMNEY The Vatican has installed two stoves, according to dueling profiles of the Sistine’s pope-announcement system from The New York Times the Associated Press (couldn’t each have just profiled one stove?). One stove will burn the cardinals’ ballots after they vote, and the other will ensure the smoke from them emerges through the chimney in the correct color.
The AP’s Frances D’Emilio says the smoke during 2005′s conclave was something of a letdown: The two-stove solution “hardly made the distinction between black and white smoke any clearer — and confusion still was the order of the day.”
The bells of St. Peter’s Basilica will ring when the new pope is chosen, D’Emilio reports, in case the smoke is difficult to see, and the Vatican will train spotlights on the chimney at night.
The New York Times’ Henry Fountain talks with English smoke-machine manufacturer Ben Baxter, who “said the principal chemical was most likely potassium chlorate, which ignites easily — a 9-volt battery will do — and produces fine white particles as it burns.”
“That’s what we sell in our smoke pellets and smoke grenades,” he said.
Worried you’ll miss the big reveal? The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference is offering an “Aussie Pope Alarm” that will notify you “as soon as the smoke turns white!”