- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 12, 2013

NEW YORK – White smoke or black smoke? Maybe it’s easier just to wait for a text message that a new pope has been elected.

A Catholic organization has set up a website, www.popealarm.com, that lets people register to receive a text or email notification when a pope has been selected. 

While the process of selecting a new pope is as old as the ages, there are enough changes to the media to make the last papal conclave – in 2005 – seem like ancient history. 

The text service was set up by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, or FOCUS, and had proven so popular with more than 40,000 respondents that the popealarm website said Tuesday it could no longer guarantee new registrants would get a text message. People could still sign up for emails.

“When the smoke goes up, you’ll know what’s going down” is the website’s motto.

FOCUS paid nearly $10,000 to set up the free service, figuring it was good publicity. Now the group’s leaders are sifting through co-sponsorship offers from other organizations impressed with the amount of online traffic it has generated and hoping for their own exposure, said Jeremy Rivera, spokesman for the Christian campus ministry.

Another new website, www.adoptacardinal.org, assigns interested people one of the voting cardinals at random to pray for him as he deliberates on a new pope. Nearly 500,000 people had signed up by Tuesday morning.

 

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