A simple Web site allowing users to randomly adopt a cardinal in the lead-up to the papal election has drawn nearly a half-million participants so far.
The home page of www.adoptacardinal.org asks: “Are you infinitely thankful to God for having given us such a wonderful, wise and benevolent pope in Benedict XVI?
“Do you sincerely hope that the Church will be granted a worthy successor: a rock of faith, a leader open to the Holy Spirit, a pope prayerful and holy?
“Do you as an important part of the Body of Christ wish to contribute through the power of your prayers so that the Holy Spirit may guide, protect and enlighten our Cardinals when they determine the next successor of St. Peter?”
Users are then invited to adopt a cardinal, assigned randomly, and offer for him the prayers and sacrifices they choose.
The cardinals themselves are aware they are being “adopted.” The director of the Vatican press office, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, said at a briefing Friday that the cardinals had commented on the initiative during their meetings that day.