What's the Latest Development?
The papal conclave, which starts today in Vatican City, is a tech-free zone, with jamming activated to ensure no one can listen in or report on the proceedings. However, for millions of Catholics and others around the world, the Internet is enabling them to connect over the event in ways that may be unprecedented. For example, a Twitter account has been opened with the handle @papalsmokestack that will instantly inform the world when a new pope has been elected. On the Web site Adopt A Cardinal, users entering an e-mail address will receive in return the name of one of the 115 cardinal-electors to "adopt" in prayer. So many requests poured in that the site's server crashed briefly.
What's the Big Idea?
Benedictine monk Brother Martin Browne puts it simply: "I think it's fabulous for the Church...I think more people understand what's going on now because there's greater access to good information." Cardinal Wilfred Napier of South Africa concurs: "What I see is a real desire to know, and so evaluate, the [contenders] against criteria of qualities demanded by situations." Some of the cardinals themselves were taking questions from the faithful via Twitter in the days prior to the conclave, and others say they have used Google to learn more about their fellow electors.