Summary of today’s show: Scot Landry is coming to you LIVE from Rome today and in addition to an exclusive interview with Cardinal Seán O’Malley, he’s joined by Gregory Tracy, Fr. Jonathan Gaspar, and George Martell to discuss the latest news of the College of Cardinals and preparations for the upcoming papal conclave, including the reports from that cardinals that they’re spending their time getting to know one another so that when they enter the conclave, they’ll know who they want to vote for to become the next Pope.
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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry
Today’s guest(s): Gregory Tracy, managing editor of The Pilot newspaper, Fr. Jonathan Gaspar, priest-secretary to Cardinal Seán, and George Martell of Pilot New Media
Links from today’s show:
Today’s topics: LIVE from Rome
1st segment: Scot Landry welcomed everyone to the show and noted they arrived at 7:30am getting almost no sleep on their flight overnight from Boston to Rome. Greg Tracy noted how little sleep he’s gotten over the past week in Rome.
Scot said today the College of Cardinals met this morning in their general congregation and they’re still waiting for a few more cardinals to arrive before they set a date for the conclave. Scot was able to talk to Cardinal Seán in the afternoon after a press conference at the Pontifical North American College.
Cardinal Seán talked about being able to say goodbye to Pope Benedict and then taking part in the General Congregations to hear from cardinals around the world on the needs of the Church and the task at hand. Cardinal Seán talked about how he’s preparing for his vote by researching other cardinals. The talks this week are a good opportunity to meet with them and get to know them, especially those he doesn’t know personally. He does have firsthand knowledge of many of them. Scot asked Cardinal Seán how he deals with the buzz about him as a possible Pope. He said he thinks part of it is the great affection the Italians have for the Capuchin order. HE also asked the whole Church to be united in prayer for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit to identify who God wants. He noted that past 150 years we’ve been blessed with wise, holy popes to serve the Church. Cardinal Seán said he’s been sticking to his Lenten diet and said it’s hard to get a bad meal in Rome.
Back to the in-studio panel, Greg Tracy talked about how the Cardinal is using Google to do research on the other cardinals and how important it is to know every man in the conclave because any of them could be elected. Fr. Jonathan Gaspar said these days of the General Congregation are so important for this reason. Despite the eagerness to begin the conclave, there must be this time of discernment, a word which has come up very often lately. He said the Cardinal takes all his responsibilities seriously, but in the last few weeks, he has been even more serious about this responsibility. It’s the most important thing a cardinal does in the life of the Church.
Greg noted how the cardinals have talked about the importance of the coffee hours in the General Congregations where they have a moment to mingle amongst themselves and chat informally. Scot said it’s daunting to believe that the cardinals will be making a vote because of a conversation over coffee. George Martell talked about the Cardinal’s status as a dark horse, but how much he would be a great pope.
2nd segment: Scot said Fr. Federico Lombardi, spokesman for the Vatican, announced today that five more cardinal-electors arrived in Rome today and took their oaths of secrecy and they’re waiting for three more. The cardinals are giving speeches representing all the different regions of the world, and various other topics of concern. They discussed the motu proprio for setting the date of the conclave, but did not set one. They also sent a telegram to Benedict XVI thanking him for his service. Tomorrow night, the cardinals will gather in St. Peter’s Basilica for a special public prayer service.
Fr. Gaspar said it’s a great opportunity for Catholics throughout the world to join in prayer and be reminded that this is a time of spiritual renewal of the Church. The cardinals are telling us that they need our prayers.
Greg said it is surprising that these other cardinals are not in Rome and that’s been a common question from the media. Cardinal DiNardo speculated that they had unbreakable commitments in their diocese. Others say it’s not so easy coming from some of these countries. Still others say they may be trying to delay the conclave to the traditional 15-day waiting period. It could also be that it had been unclear until very recently even when the General Congregations would begin. Scot said we’re all anxious to know who the next Holy Father is going to be, but Cardinal Seán says that it’s wonderful to have these times of the General Congregations so when the conclave begins they will be able to make their votes right away and it won’t take very long.
Fr. Gaspar said Rome wasn’t built in a day. They’re not just selecting a Prefect of the Papal Household. They’re electing a pope, which is an awesome experience. He said as Americans we’re very impatient, but this process has taken place for centuries and we should be slow in deliberations and quick in decision-making.Greg said they don’t want to go into the conclave ill-prepared or the conclave could drag on. Scot said the consequence of that might be the appearance of a very divided Church.
Scot said the questions he’s been asked all day is when the conclave will start, who does he think will get elected, and does Cardinal Seán have a shot? Next, Scot played Cardinal Seán’s opening statement from a press conference this afternoon at the Pontifical North American College.
Cardinal Seán recounted the events of Monday in the General Congregations and described how they heard from the cardinals who won’t be entering the conclave. Then he described their activities today.
Scot said he counted 22 TV cameras and more than 100 media personnel in the press conference. Fr. Gaspar said it’s fascinating that what the cardinals are saying hasn’t changed all that much and yet there’s all these people waiting to hear what two cardinals sworn to secrecy had to say about a meeting they can’t say anything about. For those who say the Church has nothing to say to the modern world, it seems that people are interested in what the Church has to say. Fr. Gaspar said he’s heard from a number of non-American journalists how refreshing it is to hear directly from American cardinals, which no other bishops’ conference around the world is doing.
Greg said it is true that the entire world’s attention is focused on Rome and you don’t see this with any other religion. Whether or not you entirely follow your faith or even if you’re not Catholic, somehow the Church provides a moral compass and the world is looking for this compass. It doesn’t mean they will follow it, but they could be comforted knowing that there is someone with moral certitude and moral courage.
The first question in the press conference came from Ann Rodgers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. She asked what form the conversations of the General Congregations took. Cardinal Seán said today it took the form of some interventions from various cardinals. The next question came from the Associated Press who asked about some back and forth between the cardinals and members of the curia and what they thought on the reported dysfunction in the curia. Cardinal Seán said they are interested in the functioning of the bureaucracy of the Holy See. He said he’s not sure who important all that is for the working of the conclave.
Scot asked Fr. Gaspar how the cardinals will prioritize among the three principal duties of the Pope: the teaching, the sanctifying, or the governing mission. He said it’s widely held that the Vatican needs stronger guidance. Fr. Gaspar said he doesn’t think that will be highest priority as that responsibility is often handed over to those who assist the Pope. He said the cardinals are probably talking about this issue among themselves and we probably can expect changes in the hierarchy in the future. Benedict XVI was a wonderful teacher and he thinks that the cardinals will want to continue emphasizing that teaching.
Scot said he hopes the cardinals continue to prioritize as they did in the last two conclaves: Someone who can communicate Christ’s teaching and all the improvements we want to make personally and collectively as a Church. Greg said in the press conferences they are asked over and over whether they want to see the report produced on the dysfunction in the curia. The cardinals keep responding that they will learn everything they need to know in the General Congregations. The report itself will be presented to the new Holy Father.
The next question comes from Jason Horowitz of the Washington Post, who asked if the timing will affect who gets elected. Cardinal Seán responded that the big concern is that the cardinal-electors want to have a good idea of who they want to vote for going into the conclave and so they want to have the preparation done beforehand. Fr. Jonathan said if the cardinals rush this, they will lose the opportunity to discern how the Holy Spirit is leading the Church today.
The next question is from Associated Press’s Anne Thomas. She wondered if Pope Benedict’s presence will have an indirect influence on the conclave and whether Cardinal Seán would wear brown robes if elected pope. Cardinal Seán said he presumes he will wear his robes until the day he dies because he doesn’t expect to be elected.
Scot said the whole world knows Cardinal Seán is a contender for the papacy. He said they went for a coffee with the cardinal after the news conference and they had a number of people who came up to him and recognized him and the proprietor of the shop gave them the local’s rate for their coffee, as opposed to the tourist rate. Scot said a lot of people recognize Cardinal Seán as distinctive among the cardinals for his clothes. Greg said the people of Boston were also taken aback by the cardinal when he arrived there for eschewing the formal dress. Other Capuchin bishops don’t continue to wear the robes, but for Cardinal Seán he wants to stay close to his roots. Scot said he refers to the cardinal’s robes as his second skin.
3rd segment: Scot looked forward to the rest of the week in which he will be interviewing locals from across the Station of the Cross’ network. George Martell added that he is taking photos during their days and uploading them automatically to Flickr.com/BostonCatholic. They will also be posting videos up Youtube.com/BostonCatholic. Greg Tracy will be writing a blog post on The Good Catholic Life website and another on PilotCatholicNews.com. He said the big upcoming event will be that prayer service with the cardinals in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Scot said it was reported today that more than 5,000 journalists have been accredited already.
Fr. Jonathan said he doesn’t know what the schedule holds for him in assisting the cardinal. He said there’s been lots of gathering throughout the city outside the General Congregations in language groups and other groups to continue informally the conversations they have during the day.
Scot said anyone who wants their prayer requests brought before the bones of St. Peter can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. He recounted some of his plans to interview other pilgrims tomorrow and he will be taking over the blogging mantle from Greg.