Fantasy conclave

As I’ve been promoting this week, today was Google Hangout day for the Southern Cross New Media Project folks: Sarah Coppola and Emilie Ng from Cradio and James Bergin and I from Icon Media/Station 15 etc. And we were joined by the very impressive young man Brandon Vogt, who is doing some fantastic work in communicating the Gospel message using new (and old) technology. You can watch our hour-long chat here, in which we predominantly discuss the papal abdication, Catholic new media and the crossover between the two.

One of the regular segments of the show is “Site to Behold”, in which we promote a website or app or YouTube video that we like. Having Brandon on the show was great, because he introduced me to a brand new website: Fantasy Conclave. The site went live shortly before our Hangout, so as I type this we’re only 12 hours into the site’s lifespan.

For those familiar with the concept of fantasy baseball or fantasy football, it’s in that vein, but is obviously related to next month’s conclave. You’re only making three selections: Who will be elected pope? On which day will he be elected? What name will he take?

Now, there is the possibility that people will say this is an inappropriate thing to be involved in, just as many are critical of the concept of betting on who the next Pope will be. I just think betting on who the Pope will be, using real money, is a bit silly because it’s more like finding a needle in a haystack than shooting fish in a barrel. I think there are probably 25 cardinals who have some degree of a chance of being chosen by their peers to replace the retiring Pope Benedict XVI.

But back to the allegation of irreverence in this Fantasy Conclave exercise. Here’s how Brandon responded to the expected opposition:

1. This isn’t gambling; no money is involved.

2. The goal is to encourage people to learn more about the papacy and the different cardinals around the world.

3. It’s a fun way to engage people who would otherwise be ambivalent about the conclave

Point 2 is an important one, because part of the larger plan from the folks behind Fantasy Conclave is to educate people. Each day, people who have entered the competition will be sent information about conclaves, the papacy etc, so it’s a great chance to teach those who may not know much about conclaves, which would be most of the population. So head along to Fantasy Conclave, have a spin of the roulette wheel to choose the next pope, his name and when he’ll be elected, and to receive daily fun facts about this quirky system the Church has for choosing its leader.

So what were my selections? I went Cardinal Ravasi, on the third day of voting, and taking the name Pius XIII. When I say it like that, it sounds like a game of Clue/Cluedo. Hopefully there’s a much happier ending :)

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