As I mentioned in my Pilot column last week (“What will Rome be like for a Boston Catholic during the Interregnum and Papal Conclave?”), we hope this blog of daily dispatches from Rome will provide a pilgrim’s experience regarding what it is like to be here near St. Peter’s Basilica during this momentous time in the life of the Church.
The beginning of a pilgrim’s experience is always the travel. George Martell and I were joined on the Alitalia flight last evening by Jay Fadden & Tim Stonesifer from CatholicTV, Fr. Jonathan Gaspar from Cardinal Seán’s office, and my brother, Fr. Roger Landry, who is coming here to provide television commentary on EWTN TV and Radio and to write for the New Bedford Standard Times and the Anchor.
I boarded the plane with a strong desire to sleep at least a few hours, but because of a lot of different factors, sleep wasn’t possible. The good news with that unfortunate scenario, however, was that I was able to finish one of the best Church-related books I’ve read in years: Rebuilt, by Fr. Michael White and Tom Corcoran. It chronicles their failures and successes at changing a Church culture to be focused more on loving God, loving others and making disciples. I highly recommend it.
We arrived at about 7:30 am Rome time. Passport control and Customs were very smooth and we headed from the airport into historic Rome. My last visit to Rome was in 2006 for the Consistory in which then Archbishop Seán was made a Cardinal. I truly love this city. Within moments of landing, I feel like I’ve never left.
After settling into our accomodations, George and I headed to St. Peter’s Square to make the first of many visits we’ll be making there during this fortnight. I consider St. Peter’s to be one of the best people-watching spots in the entire world, as within a 30-minute visit you can often see people from all the major continents and so many different languages. But, of course, I love being there because of its spiritual significance and the closeness we have to the bones of our first Pope, the man Jesus chose to give the keys, St. Peter the Apostle.
We made the following brief video when we first arrived in St. Peter’s Square.
Upon completion of the video and also a “radio report” for The Station of the Cross Radio Network, we met up with Greg Tracy and headed to the Pontifical North American College to prepare for the news conference with Cardinal Seán and Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston. There were 22 TV cameras filming the remarks and more than 100 media professionals there. It was an amazing turnout especially given that there wasn’t much “news” (in terms of new updates) to share because the Cardinals are sworn to secrecy about the details of the Congregation meetings.
In addition to taking the above photos, George Martell also recorded the video of the entire news conference and you can see it here.
Some of the most important points shared by Cardinals O’Malley and Dinardo were that they have valued the advice given from the older cardinals in their interventions in the morning meeting, that they sought a time to pray publicly together (which will be Wednesday at 5 pm Rome time in St. Peter’s Basilica), that some of the most valuable moments have been the informal discussions during the coffee break, and that despite the desire to return home to lead diocesan Palm Sunday and Holy Week liturgies, there is nothing more important to the Cardinals than taking the time required to discern the best candidate to vote for in the Conclave to be the 266th Pope. Cardinal Seán emphasized that he sees the Congregation time as one to ask all the key questions and discuss the key issues facing the Church. He didn’t want to rush the Congregations, saying some Cardinals are worried that if they don’t spend enough time in the general meetings, then the conclave could go on and on. He prefers all the preparations to be completed before the Conclave so that the Cardinals can enter the Conclave ready to make a decision and cast a ballot.
After the news conference, Cardinal Seán granted interviews to the Boston Globe, to CatholicTV and to us for today’s episode of The Good Catholic Life.
The highlight of the day for George and me came next. Cardinal Seán invited the two of us for a cappuccino, along with Greg Tracy and Fr. Jonathan. What I loved about it is that I was able to see Cardinal Seán as he remains relaxed, funny and focused on the awesome responsibility of participating in the Conclave to elect the next Pope.
As I ran into friends in Boston or now those who have traveled to Rome, I hear 3 questions most frequently: (1) When do I think the Conclave will begin? (2) Whom do I think will become the next Pope? And (3) Might Cardinal Seán be elected as our next Holy Father?
On the 3rd question, it is clear that the “buzz” about Cardinal Seán as a possibility to become the next Holy Father is present in Rome. In fact, in the coffee shop, the waiter asked us where we were all from. When we mentioned that we’re from Boston, he responded that, “Is it true that your Archbishop might be our next Holy Father?” We all laughed and pointed to Cardinal Seán and only then the waiter recognized that he was speaking to that very Archbishop! Cardinal Seán once again handled the situation with humor and grace and took a photo with him.
We later learned this shop was Bishop Deeley’s favorite place to get a cappuccino when he worked just down the street at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. After that great cup of caffeine, George and I stopped in St. Peter’s for our second YouTube report.
We then returned to our hotel to prepare for today’s episode of The Good Catholic Life. We were pleased to be joined by Greg and Fr. Jonathan and we all shared our reflections on the day. It is wonderful that until March 15, the Good Catholic Life will be broadcasted throughout all of the Station of the Cross Network (in addition to WQOM 1060AM in Boston).
Going forward, my main activities here in Rome will be to broadcast the radio program, write a daily blog, submit a weekly Pilot column and then to pray at St. Peter’s. I would be honored to take any prayer requests that you have inside St. Peter’s, where so many Saints and Popes are buried, and to beg God for your needs. If you would like to submit a prayer request, you can do so by emailing PrayerRequests@PilotNewMedia.com.
Have a great night and I look forward to writing again tomorrow. Now time to catch up on some sleep!