Cell Phones Off Please: The Vatican Conclave is Beginning

As deliberations over who will be the next Pope continue, cardinals at the Vatican Conclave are more shut off from the outside world than ever.

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Cardinals enter the door of the Sistine Chapel to begin the conclave in order to elect a successor to Pope Benedict, in a still image taken from video at the Vatican March 12, 2013.

To ensure that deliberations at the Conclave to elect a successor to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI remains a secret, the Vatican has installed electronic jammers to stop any signals from escaping the Sistine Chapel, Reuters reports.

Under the shadow of last year’s Vatileaks scandal, when the pope’s butler leaked secret documents exposing Vatican secrets, the Holy See is taking extra precautionary steps to keep the papal election private. Officials will sweep the chapel and the cardinals’ guesthouses for hidden microphones; electronic jamming devices will also be installed to prevent any transmission from escaping.

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On Monday, every cardinal at the conclave swore an oath of secrecy inside the Sistine Chapel; the penalty for breaking such an oath is excommunication. But the Vatican has had trouble reigning in cardinals who, like the former pope, have taken a liking to Twitter. Of the 115 cardinals attending (average age: 70), 17 have Twitter accounts. On Tuesday, the day the first conclave vote is set to start, Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles was still tweeting about reviewing the candidates, though all cardinals were told to stop speaking with the media last week:

[tweet https://twitter.com/CardinalMahony/status/311342594514894848]

Once conclave begins, the use of any kind of technology to record or send voice, pictures or text is expressly forbidden, reports Reuters. All news from outside the chapel’s walls is also banned. The only glimpse we’ll have of the furtive election process is if another impostor bishop sneaks in and snaps Twitpics.

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