The Italian Almanac

Vatican State

Italian News - April 17

Housekeepers, elevator operators, and others who will come in contact with cardinals as they choose a new pope took an oath of secrecy yesterday, pledging never to reveal any details of the politicking and infighting behind the selection process.

The ceremony came hours after workmen scaled the roof of the Sistine Chapel and attached the chimney pipe that will spew out puffs of white smoke to announce to the world that a new pope has been elected.

With one hand on the Gospels, each of several dozen Vatican officials and workers swore to keep secret anything they might learn about the cardinals' discussions and votes during the conclave, which begins Monday afternoon.

They also signed written pledges of secrecy and promised to refrain from using audio or video equipment during the closed-door votes. Violating the pledge could bring the severest of punishments the church can mete out: excommunication.