NBC News & MSNBC Announce 'Election of the Pope' Special Coverage

NBC News & MSNBC Announce 'Election of the Pope' Special Coverage

NBC News and MSNBC will continue to provide comprehensive coverage of the election of the pope as the Roman Catholic Church's 115 cardinal electors convene this week to select a new leader. The papal conclave will formally begin Tuesday afternoon when the cardinals gather in the Sistine Chapel following a morning mass in St. Peter's Basilica.

Throughout the duration of the conclave, an expert team of anchors and correspondents will report from Vatican City for all platforms on air and online. Coverage on the ground will be led by Lester Holt for NBC News and by Chris Jansing for MSNBC, both of whom also led coverage of the conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.

Contributors across both networks include:

Anne Thompson, NBC News correspondent who has covered Vatican transitions and church scandals
Keir Simmons, NBC News correspondent
Claudio Lavanga, NBC News Rome bureau chief
George Weigel, NBC News Vatican analyst, Catholic theologian, author, and Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center
Father Robert Barron, acclaimed author, speaker, and theologian; founder of the global Word on Fire Catholic Ministries and Rector/President of Mundelein Seminary
Father John Bartunek, author and Ordained Catholic Priest based in Rome
Elizabeth Lev, author and Duquesne University Professor of Art History

Both NBC News and MSNBC will provide special reports each time the ballot papers are burned and smoke rises from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. There will be one round of voting Tuesday afternoon, followed by two every morning and two every afternoon, until one name earns two-thirds of the votes. Twice a day, after the morning and afternoon sessions, the ballots will be burned in a special stove. Black smoke will indicate that the cardinals have not yet reached a two-thirds majority; white smoke will indicate that they have selected a new leader for the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.

The NBC News digital properties will also provide extensive coverage around the clock:
On NBCNews.com, NBCNews.com/Vatican will serve as the HUB for extensive original reporting and multimedia, including articles, videos, photos, and more. Visitors are encouraged to check back often for interactive chats with NBC News contributors.
NBCNews.com will also feature a "smoke cam" -- a live streaming video of the Sistine Chapel chimney available during all hours the conclave is in session.
On social media, coverage and discussions will form around the hashtag #NBCPope.

NBC News and MSNBC have closely tracked the events surrounding the Catholic church since Pope Benedict XVI announced his abdication on February 11. Full coverage plans for the installation will be announced once a new pope has been chosen.

Mark Lukasiewicz is Senior Vice President, NBC News Specials.