Acton Institute Powerblog

Vatican Smoke Signals

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Here’s a curious tidbit regarding the fumata, the white or black smoke that will rise from the Sistine Chapel’’s chimney signaling whether a pope has been elected or not.

“It is sometimes hard to distinguish the actual color of the smoke, such as in 2005”. Back then, I knew for sure there was a successful vote for pope when I saw the fumata in the middle of the afternoon session, even though it was difficult to tell if it was white or black.

Here’s why. Cardinals cast two ballots in the morning and another two ballots in the afternoon. However, if a pope is successfully elected after the first of the two ballots, then their votes are burned and white chemicals are added to report a positive outcome. “Otherwise, they wait to burn both ballots all in one fumata.

At the very end of the morning or afternoon the smoke can be white or black. But if we see the fumata mid-morning or mid-afternoon, then it has to be white for a successful election.

Rev. Robert Sirico Rev. Robert A. Sirico received his Master of Divinity degree from the Catholic University of America, following undergraduate study at the University of Southern California and the University of London. During his studies and early ministry, he experienced a growing concern over the lack of training religious studies students receive in fundamental economic principles, leaving them poorly equipped to understand and address today's social problems. As a result of these concerns, Fr. Sirico co-founded the Acton Institute with Kris Alan Mauren in 1990. As president of the Acton Institute, Fr. Sirico lectures at colleges, universities, and business organizations throughout the U.S. and abroad. His writings on religious, political, economic, and social matters are published in a variety of journals, including: the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, the London Financial Times, the Washington Times, the Detroit News, and National Review. Fr. Sirico is often called upon by members of the broadcast media for statements regarding economics, civil rights, and issues of religious concern, and has provided commentary for CNN, ABC, the BBC, NPR, and CBS' 60 Minutes, among others. In April of 1999, Fr. Sirico was awarded an honorary doctorate in Christian Ethics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, and in May of 2001, Universidad Francisco Marroquin awarded him an honorary doctorate in Social Sciences. He is a member of the prestigious Mont Pèlerin Society, the American Academy of Religion, and the Philadelphia Society, and is on the Board of Advisors of the Civic Institute in Prague. Father Sirico also served on the Michigan Civil Rights Commission from 1994 to 1998. He is also currently serving on the pastoral staff of Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Fr. Sirico's pastoral ministry has included a chaplaincy to AIDS patients at the National Institute of Health and the recent founding of a new community, St. Philip Neri House in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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Comments

  • What would Christ say?
    Be humble. This is the best way to live as tooting our own horn never works. Pride is the cancer of the self and has wrecked the life of many a man.
    Share with others. After our living expenses are paid, why not share the rest with those less fortunate. We can’t take it with us, and it will spoil our kids more if we leave it with them. Why not give it to those we deem worthy while we still have our faculties.
    Show tolerance. This is not only the hallmark of a learned man but also an experienced one. Nobody is all bad or all good. In between lies humanity, but we will never find it if we don’t look there. After all, this is where Christ looked and found us. This is where the Church must look also to find its lost flock.
    Turn the other cheek. If we were wronged revenge won’t make it right — though it might briefly feel better. But the revenge perpetuates the wrong, and from generation to generation. Why not fight the urge for revenge ourselves by turning the other cheek and stop it, there and then with us.
    Above all, let’s love our strange, filthy, unworthy neighbor as we love ourselves. He could use our understanding and help, though he may not deserve it. He is our brother — unconditionally — and we are our brother’s keeper.