Social Media Brings the Conclave to the People

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on March 12, 2013

in social media

The conclave to elect the next Pope has begun.  The College of Cardinals has assembled in the Sistene Chapel for their first vote. One of the unique aspects to this conclave is the activity on social media which is fully engaged in following the age-old, traditional process of selecting a pope. From the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI to the pre-conclave meetings and throughout the conclave and afterwards, people are/will be getting their conclave news on mobile devices and computers via text, tweet, and post,  as well as through the traditional media: TV, radio and print.

Social Media Innovations:

Free conclave apps.

Lisa M. Hendey, the founder and editor of (and a CWS subscriber) describes the app she has tested from Verbum and Logos Bible Software for ios software in an article on Patheos.  There is also an Android version. It has resources related to the conclave including a link to the Twitter feed for #conclave.

The Pope Alarm.

This comes from FOCUS (fellowship of Catholic university students). It is a simple service that will send you a text or email message when the smoke coming out of the Sistine Chapel chimney turns white so you will know when a new Pope has been elected.

Adopt A Cardinal (with over 450,000 participants).

You sign up and are given a Cardinal to pray for.  The Cardinals are assigned randomly.  You receive a photo and a little data about your Cardinal.

Bloggers, online reporters and social media sources (to name a few):

Sister Mary Ann Walsh, RSM, media relations director for the USCCB, is in Rome and blogging daily on the USCCB Media Blog.

John L. Allen Jr., NCR senior correspondent, writes weekly on the goings-on in the Vatican and in the church around the world.  He also serves as senior Vatican analyst for CNN. He is posting about the conclave on his blog All Things Catholic.

Fr. Robert Baron of Word on Fire is in Rome and serving as a consultant on the Papal Conclave to NBC News.  He is also posting his own video commentary updates.

Fr. James Martin (@JamesMartinSJ), Editor at Large for America Magazine is posting conclave comments on his Facebook page and appearing on various news channels: BBC, CNN, CBS.

The traditional news media have made their own observations about this new media coverage.

From ABC News: Conclave 2013: Electing Pope in Social Media World

From Rachel Zoll, AP Religion Writer: Catholics Create ‘Virtual Conclave’ for New Pope

This real time engagement of the faithful and the curious is a great opportunity to witness to the world the vibrancy of the Catholic Church in spite of its human failings. Christ is at the center of our faith commitment and he will be always with us. It is his fidelity that we celebrate at moments like this.

How will you keep up with the conclave? Do you have a favorite FB page, Twitter feed, blog or website that you are following on the conclave? Please share it with us.



Marika Donders March 12, 2013 at 9:15 am

I love Fr. Roderick’s podcast “Catholic Insider” – check it out at

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND March 12, 2013 at 10:57 am

Thanks for mentioning Fr. Roderick,’s podcast Marika. I believe I saw a photo of him in Rome as well.

John K Riordan March 12, 2013 at 12:50 pm

I’ve been following the social media voice of the People, more closely than events in Rome. I hope they’re listening.

Here’s one site:

And some telling numbers from Facebook…

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn – 114 Likesönborn-OP/171947346178859

Cardinal Marc Ouellet – 372 Likes

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle – 129,003 Likes, and skyrocketing

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND March 12, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Very interesting, John.
The Facebook “likes” numbers aren’t that revealing. I suspect they have a lot to do with the Cardinal’s own use of social media. The more active the Cardinal, the more followers. Some Cardinals are more into Twitter than Facebook and some are blogging.

Patricia Wolf March 12, 2013 at 6:23 pm

I listened to the Cardinals process into the Sistine Chapel on the radio through my computer and then put the live telecast from EWTN on my computer as well. It was AWESOME!