Nearly half a million Internet users have by now adopted a cardinal. I’m praying hard, and offering up all sorts of things, for Cardinal Sepe. By my reckoning, 4,222 other people are also praying for him.

That’s good! We need to pray for the cardinals. It is extremely unlikely that the Holy Spirit will explicitly dictate His choice. Pope Benedict has described his experience of the last few conclaves:

I would say that the Spirit does not exactly take control of the affair, but rather like a good educator, as it were, leaves us much space, much freedom, without entirely abandoning us. Thus the Spirit’s role should be understood in a much more elastic sense, not that he dictates the candidate for whom one must vote.

Hence the need for us to pray for the cardinals.

The conclave starts at 3:45pm Rome time, which is 1:45am Wednesday morning, Melbourne time. The first ballot will occur an hour later, and smoke — probably black — will emerge from the Sistine Chapel at about 5am, our time.

But what if it’s white smoke? What if the Holy Spirit actually does explicitly dictate His choice (and all the cardinals oblige), and habemus papam while we’re asleep? Or — and this is easier to imagine — what if white smoke emerges on one of the subsequent days while Australia is sleeping?

Well, some tech-savvy people at the Australian Bishops Communications Office have thought of that, and developed a local pope alarm!


The Communications Office saw the creation of as a way in which Catholics in Australia could more fully participate in this historic moment in the Catholic Church’s history.

A Carmelite priest working in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn Fr Jaison Mulerrikal CMI worked with a team of web developers over a 24-hour period to bring this application to an Australian audience.

Matthew Price of designed the landing page, which features links, a field to enter your information and beautiful images of the Sistine Chapel.

Free sign up to is available now, and simply requires a mobile number, email address or both. You can also become a fan of Aussie Pope Alarm on Facebook.