Tweets from Rome

I have received a number of your questions via Twitter. Thanks for sending sending them in. We will get to as many of them as we can in the days ahead. You can send your questions to @americaeditor.

Among our questions today: 

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“How many non-cardinals are in the Sistine Chapel during the voting? Heard about others taking a secrecy oath?”

The answer is that very few people are in the Sistine Chapel other than the Cardinals, if any else at all. Many more people, however, are sworn to secrecy because they may overhear the cardinals talking; this includes the secretary of the College, doctors and nurses to assist the infirmed cardinals, sacristans, confessors, even the waiters at the Cardinals’ hotel and the guy driving the bus from their hotel to the Sistine Chapel.

Another reader tweets to ask: “If Cardinals are looking for effective administrator & effective evangelist, how do they assess these qualities?”

The answer is “with great difficulty.” First, the pool of potential candidates is very small. Second, no one is perfect and universally talented. The most important quality is holiness. Is this man a man of prayer? If so, he is likely to be an effective evangelist. Then, the question is: Can he manage, can he govern effectively? Holiness and prayer, though, are the top priorities.

A third reader tweets: “How do they get the smoke to turn white after the Pope is elected?”

In order to produce the right color of smoke, a precise mixture of chemicals must be used. That requires an auxiliary device that must be managed by a complex of valves and digital technology. In other words, we are using the very latest technology in order to ensure that this all looks as old-fashioned as possible. 

Lastly, another reader tweets this question: “Does the newly elected Pope get to go home first? Get his stuff? or he's just in Roma now for good?”

The answer is that he stays in Rome and sends somebody to go back and get his stuff. He’ll have somebody do that for him. In fact, from then on, he’ll have someone to do most everything for him.

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