Integrating 21st century technology into a nearly 2,000-year tradition, Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony took to Twitter and his blog Tuesday to ask for prayers as he and 114 other cardinals begin the selection of the next pope.
“Last tweet before moving to Casa Santa Martha, and Mass to Elect a Pope,” Mahony tweeted from his account @CardinalMahony. “First Conclave meeting late Tuesday afternoon. Prayers needed.”
On his blog, Mahony reposted the prayer he and the rest of the cardinals will take Tuesday morning and recounted what’s to come when the cardinals are sequestered in the Sistine Chapel to select a new pope.
Many have criticized Mahony's participation in the selection process, as recent revelations show he helped cover up years of sexual abuse by priests.
The conclave-–the process where the 115-person College of Cardinals elect the pope-–has taken place in the Sistine Chapel for the last 954 years, Mahony wrote. There have been 12 popes selected in that time.
It’s perhaps the longest, most hallowed and secretive election process in the world. Even if Mahony or any other cardinals wanted to embrace today’s technology and discreetly message the outside world during the process, they couldn’t.
The Vatican has surrounded the Sistine Chapel and the Santa Marta guest residence the cardinals are housed in with cellphone-jamming devices, Religious News Service reported.
The election process starts with a secret ballot Tuesday evening before more rounds of voting Wednesday.
This will be the second pope selected in less than 10 years. Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope Benedict XVI in 2005 and was the first pope to step down from the post in more than 700 years.
The new pope will lead the world's estimated 1.2 billion Catholics and will have to contend with a declining following and a church rocked by sex abuse scandals in recent years.
– Joseph Serna
Photo: Cardinal Roger Mahony takes place for a prayer with other cardinals at St. Peter's Basilica. Credit: Vincenzo Pinto / Getty Images