Tuesday, April 19, 2005

For whom the bell tolls...eventually

Hey, did you know (maybe you did - it's the kind of thing that would have made the news) that one or possibly two of the candidates to replace the Pope (I'm SURE you know the Pope died...) was black? I couldn't believe it.

I happened to be over at José & Yolanda's house when the news came out that the new Pope had been selected. I had to leave before they announced which candidate it was (it wasn't the black one), but it was surprising to suddenly find myself watching live coverage of a major international event...who knew?

There was this big crowd of people out in the square outside the church (or religious building of some sort) where the Cardinals were voting. There's this dinky little chimney made out of like a metal pipe with a little cone-shaped hat on top and when the new Pope was elected white smoke was supposed to come out of the chimney, then the bells were supposed to ring.

Some Catholics (that I know) think/thought that they took papers with the candidates' names on them and burned them one by one, and that the one that made white smoke was the chosen one. I had kind of heard this in passing some time last week.

So anyway I had dropped by the house and didn't really notice what was on the television until people (on TV) started cheering and people in the house said there "We have a Pope!" But then the bells didn't ring so nobody knew what was going on for a few minutes. There was a split screen showing different shots of the crowd in the square, of the smoke (it looked white) coming out of the chimney, and of the bells not ringing. The text at the bottom said "Difícil de distinguir humo blanco, campanas no suenan" ("Hard to tell if smoke is white, bells do not toll"). The commentator was saying maybe there had been a problem with the chemicals used to produce the white smoke, and conversation in the living room speculated on how they make sure it burns white - my vote was for a chemical applied to the appropriate pre-existing ballot once the decision had been made. (Wonder how they did it in the days of yore...)

Eventually the bells rang (reportedly "10 to 12 minutes" after the smoke) and it was official. The commentator said maybe the lack of synchronization was due to the fact that they don't have to do this very often...last time was 26 years ago.

1 comments:

Lisa April 20, 2005 6:24 AM  

I heard that they burn ALL the ballots together after the vote. And that urning paper produces white smoke. And if they don't succeed in electing a pope they spray them with a chemical that produces black smoke. That's what I heard anyway.

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