You can follow Our Sunday Visitor Publisher Greg Erlandson's reports from Rome via @GregOSV on Twitter and the "OSV Daily Take” blog at www.osvdailytake.com.
Tourists and pilgrims are expected to flock to Rome for the first Mass by the Catholic Church's new pope.
But so far, the city has been overrun only by journalists — a reported 5,600 have arrived from around the world.
“There are media everywhere,” said Greg Erlandson of Fort Wayne, president and publisher of nonprofit Catholic organization Our Sunday Visitor's (OSV) publishing division in Huntington. The division produces six publications, including Our Sunday Visitor Newsweekly, as well as books, tapes, software and more.
Erlandson and Monsignor Owen Campion, OSV's associate publisher and editor, arrived in Rome on Saturday to cover the papal transition. Erlandson spoke with us by phone Monday while at the Vatican, the world headquarters of the Catholic Church.
He has been sending out thoughts on the experience on Twitter via @GregOSV. He also has been posting information on an OSV blog, “OSV Daily Take,” at www.osvdailytake.com.
Most of OSV's coverage will focus on issues facing the new pope, he said.
The Catholic church called its cardinals, the second highest-ranking clergy under the pope, to Rome last week to prepare for election of a new pope. Pope Benedict XVI resigned, effective Feb. 28, saying he lacked the strength to continue in the job.
Last week, cardinals met in congregational meetings to discuss the needs and issues facing the church, and the qualities needed in a new pope.
Today, 115 cardinals began the secretive conclave, the meeting in the Sistine Chapel at which they will vote for a new pope. They were scheduled to begin the day with a Mass in the morning. Voting — which church rules limit to cardinals age 79 or younger — begins during their late afternoon gathering.
On full days of the conclave, cardinals will vote twice in the morning and twice in the late afternoon. During each vote, a person must receive two-thirds of the total to be elected pope.
How long the conclave will last is anyone's guess.
“What I was saying before I came here was three days,” he said. “And I still think that.”
Without a dominant candidate going into the conclave, most people “think this will go a little while,” he added.
Italian news media have lobbied hard for cardinals to elect an Italian pope, Erlandson said. But as many as 12 to 15 cardinals — including Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston — have been mentioned as having a chance at being elected, he said.
Reports saying the cardinals heard from 161 speakers during their congregational meetings last week suggest they discussed a range of issues facing the church, such as the bureaucracy of the Vatican in Rome, sex abuse, religious persecution in some parts of the world and evangelization, Erlandson said.
He believes the cardinals voting in the conclave will seek to elect someone with the administrative skills to manage the church and the pastoral skills to be a good shepherd to the people.
The world will know the result soon after white smoke — the signal a pope has been elected — rises from the special chimney at the Sistine Chapel.
The first Mass -- and the pilgrims -- likely will follow a few days later, Erlandson said, as the Vatican gives world leaders time to adjust their schedules and attend.