By Gregory L. Tracy
Today, someone finally asked the question that has probably been on the minds of many people in Boston: If he is elected Pope will Cardinal Sean O’Malley still continue to wear his Capuchin robes?
The Cardinal artfully dodged the question, stating that he has worn them for over 40 years and plans to continue wearing them, he also said he has no intention of “changing uniforms” anytime soon.
Cardinal O’Malley along with Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston – Houston spoke to the media today at the Pontifical North American College after the second day of meetings of the College of Cardinals’ general congregations.
This morning’s meeting – technically the third congregation, because yesterday’s evening session was considered the second congregation rather than a continuation of the first – included seven more Cardinals then the evening before, bringing the total in attendance to 148, 110 of whom are Cardinal electors.
Unlike yesterday meetings which consisted mainly of opening addresses and explanations of procedures, today’s session involved the Cardinals hearing 11 “interventions” – a term mainly used in the church to describe a reflection or address. According to the Vatican the topics covered included “activities of the Holy See and its relations with bishops throughout the world; Church renewal in light of Vatican Council II; the Church’s position and the need for the New Evangelization in today’s world with its diverse cultural environments.”
It was also announced today that the College of Cardinals had sent their telegram expressing gratitude and prayers to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
As in yesterday’s briefing with Cardinals George and Wuerl, the cardinals took questions from members of the media. In addition to the question about Cardinal O’Malley’s robes, questions to the two cardinals included such topics as: whether the existence of a former Pope will influence the cardinals’ decision, whether a quick or slow conclave could result in Italian or non-Italian pope, and whether they feel the need to see the report created in the wake of the “Vatileaks” scandal that Pope Benedict had said would only be shown to the next Pope.
Both cardinals did their best answer, while acknowledging that they could not speak of the content of the day’s proceedings.
However, the main topic of inquiry remained the same as the day before: what was there opinion on the potential start date the conclave. And again today, both cardinals expressed the need for the body to take its time in hearing reflections on the issues facing the Church and discerning the man that each thinks should be the next Pope.
Interestingly, Cardinal DiNardo echoed the sentiments of Cardinal Wuerl in yesterday’s press conference, citing the coffee breaks – the time in which the cardinals can speak among themselves informally – as one of the most important aspects of the gathering.
It was also announced today that the cardinals would hold a holy hour in St. Peter’s Basilica tomorrow afternoon, gathered around the seat of the chair of Peter. A wise gesture, I think, on behalf of the cardinals.
Now that the resignation of Pope Benedict is behind us and the meetings of cardinals have begun, many seem to be focused on issues of influence, corruption and power brokering as the Church moves to elect its next leader. This public demonstration of prayerful mess by the cardinals could serve as a helpful reminder that, ultimately, the entire process of the congregations and conclave are principally centered around the cardinals asking the Holy Spirit to give them wisdom and discernment beyond their own natural capabilities.