Black Smoke = No Pope Yet

Black smoke rose from the newly-installed chimney at the Vatican today signaling that a vote had occurred but the 2/3 majority had not been reached for any candidate.

We do not have a pope yet. But the College of Cardinals has voted.

Hopefully, it won’t be long.

A New York Times story describing this says in part:

 

VATICAN CITY — The cardinals of the Catholic Church held their first ballot on Tuesday to elect a pope, with black smoke signaling no winner on the first day of their conclave inside the Sistine Chapel.

Night had fallen by the time the smoke rose, but people who had flocked to St. Peter’s Square on this cold, rainy evening could watch the spotlighted chimney on giant screens set up in St. Peter’s Square. Some shrieked in excitement as the thick smoke began billowing out.

The outcome was expected, since all 115 of the cardinals are theoretically candidates, and the winner must receive two-thirds, or 77, of the votes. In past modern conclaves, the first ballot essentially served as a primary, when a number of cardinals emerged as leading vote-getters. Subsequent rounds made clear where the votes were flowing. The smoke will be white when a pope is elected.

 
The cardinals, who are staying in seclusion in the 

Vatican’s Santa Marta residence, will return to the Sistine Chapel on Wednesday morning. The schedule calls for two rounds of voting in the morning and two in the evening, as needed. (Read at the rest here.)http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/13/world/europe/vatican-pope-selection-conclave.html?_r=0


New Pope Will Have Time for Adoration Before He is Presented to the Public

Pope

“Habemus Papam!”

It won’t be long before we hear those words. When we do, and our new pope is presented to us, we can know that he has taken time to be with the Lord before walking out on that balcony.

One change from previous elections is that our new pope will be given time for prayer and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament before he is presented to the public. 

I think this is a wonderful change in procedure. Time spent with the Blessed Sacrament fills a person with the peace that passes all understanding. 

The man who will become what some members of the press have called the “CEO for Christ” is going to need this peace, and those of us who are looking to him for leadership, guidance and inspiration need for him to have it. Prayer is the wellspring of the Christian life. Even though I sometimes get too busy to do it well, I always find what I need when I pray. At times, this is an understanding that I have been wrong and need to change. At other times, it’s peace and comfort. But it is always the Holy Spirit, guiding and sustaining me.

The Blessed Sacrament is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Our Lord. He reaches through it and into us. I can think of no other place where our new pope needs to go after his election than before Christ in the eucharist. 

A CNA/EWTN News article about this change in procedure for the new pope says in part:

.- In a change to past papal elections, the new Pope will have the chance to adore Jesus in the Eucharist before he makes his appearance on the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Vatican press office director Father Federico Lombardi told journalists March 11 that, “when the Pope goes to the loggia, he passes the Pauline Chapel and will stop there for a brief moment of personal prayer and silence in front of the Blessed Sacrament.” (Read the rest here.) 

Vatican Lockdown Ensures Vote by Secret Ballot

Vatican The Vatican is locking down for the big vote. That raises the question:  How do you keep a secret when more than a hundred people are in on it?

The answer is that you drive them to and from their meetings on a bus, lock them in, install jamming devices guaranteed to turn iPhones into clocks and iPads into pads. Then, to top it off,  promise excommunication to anyone — from those at the top to those who clean the floors — who talks out of school.

As we say in Oklahoma, that oughta do it.

I doubt if we’ll hear so much as a squeak from inside the Sistine Chapel while the votes take place. We will learn the outcome, but the vote, the deliberations and discussions, are for the ears of those making them.

This is an excellent idea. I am a strong believer in openness in governance. But I also know that there are times when people have to be able to consult with one another in private if anything positive is going to happen. Cardinals are people. This secrecy protects them — and us — from the pressures of electing a pope based on passing considerations of personal popularity.

We need the pope that the Holy Spirit wants. I am praying every day in my own shorthand version of prayer that God will give us a good pope. The challenges this man will face are our challenges as well. They are the problems and perils of Christianity at this time in history. The pope will have the only unified voice in Christianity today.

He speaks for 1.2 billion Catholics, and for another 800 million Christians of other communions. He also speaks for the poor, the weak, the disenfranchised of every faith and no faith all around the globe.

It is important that the cardinals vote, as we do, by secret ballot. It is also important that they cast these votes and discuss the issues surrounding them without cameras, bugs or gossip to inhibit them.

The following article from NBC News describes some of the measures being taken at the Vatican to ensure that this happens.

By Alastair Jamieson, Staff writer, NBC NewsROME — Jamming devices to halt communication were installed at the Vatican on Monday, as part of a security lockdown ahead of the papal conclave.

>The behind-the-scenes ballot process is supposed to remain a secret, but modern technology left Roman Catholic Church officials taking no chances.

< Staff working alongside the cardinals voting inside the Sistine Chapel must swear an oath of secrecy.

“I expect they’ll be on a total lockdown,” NBC News’ Vatican analyst George Weigel said. “Security is tight. It’s got to be.”

Jamming devices will be used at the Sistine Chapel inside the Vatican and the nearby guest residences at Santa Marta where cardinals will sleep during the conclave, officials told reporters on Friday

The move will ensure cardinals cannot communicate with the outside world or use social media. It will also prevent hidden microphones from picking up the discussions.

Any cardinals or Vatican workers –- such as those serving food in Santa Marta – breaching the code face excommunication from the church. (Read more here.)

How Do They Chose the Pope?

Are you curious how a pope is chosen? This video gives a quick overview of the process.

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Cardinal Dolan: Three Challenges Facing the Next Pope

Cardinal Timothy Dolan recently gave an interview to Catholic News Service in which he discussed what he feels are the three critical challenges our next pope will have to address.

I think Cardinal Dolan’s assessment is well worth watching.

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Cardinal Wuerl: Papal Conclave is Time of Silence and Prayer

Cardinal Wuerl describes a Papal Conclave as a time of prayer and silence; like a “very, very strong, very heavy retreat.”

He says that the cardinals will be focused on the aggressive secularism that is tearing at the faith all around the world, as well as other challenges. He asks for prayers from all of us, which I personally have already begun.

Our next pope will be tasked with leading us through times of great challenge. I am excited to learn who the Holy Spirit will send us.

The National Catholic Register article describing Cardinal Wuerl’s comments says in part:

The archbishop of Washington asks the Church to pray and ask God to send the Holy Spirit on the cardinals during the conclave.

by ESTEFANIA AGUIRRE/CNA/EWTN NEWS 02/28/2013 Comment

CNA/Estefania Aguirre– CNA/Estefania Aguirre

ROME — Attending a conclave is similar to going on a rigorous spiritual retreat that is pervaded by silence, according to Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C.
“It’s like going on a very, very strong, heavy retreat,” explained Cardinal Wuerl in an interview at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.
“It’s heavy in the sense of leaving aside everything else, but this time the retreat master is the Holy Spirit,” he said.
He believes that while the conclave is focused on the actual voting, it is also a time of prayer and being open to the Holy Spirit. “I will be. And I’m sure it will be the same for all of the cardinals there, taking this time of quiet simply to open our hearts to that voice of the Spirit.”
Cardinal Wuerl assisted a sick cardinal at the 2005 conclave that elected Pope Benedict..Since he was made a cardinal in 2010, this will be his first conclave as an elector.
“There’s a silence that pervades the entire conclave, particularly in the Sistine Chapel,” he said.
“I think that sustaining the serenity of spirit is why the whole idea of the conclave is quietness.”
According to the cardinal, the next Pope will have two major challenges: fighting secularism and being media savvy.
“Great secularism is pervading the Church and prevailing all around us, so it brings a sense of urgency that we need to be re-proposing the Gospel,” the cardinal said.
“He will need to be able to reach out through all the means of communication today, especially social communication to be present all over the world,” he added.
Cardinal Wuerl said that while a pope cannot be physically present worldwide, he can use social media as a way to be present electronically.
He added that the most important thing for people to do now is to pray and ask God to send the Holy Spirit on the cardinals during the conclave.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/cardinal-wuerl-describes-spiritual-experience-of-conclave?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-02-28%2014:31:01#ixzz2MDGliHNW

Interesting Times: Pope Benedict and the Church He is Handing Forward

Young Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI

“May you live in interesting times.”

That saying is reputed by some sources to be an ancient Chinese curse. Other sources claim it is an ancient Hebrew curse. It appears no one knows for sure exactly where it came from. On the other hand, no one seems to deny the underlying truth of it; that historic, or “interesting” times are often tumultuous and unpleasant for the people who must live through them.

Just as no one wants to have a really good medical malpractice suit, no one wants to live their precious life in the dislocation, misery and often dangerous times historians tend to find “interesting.”

We are fortunate because we are living through a truly historic event and no one will suffer or die because of it. Pope Benedict’s resignation takes effect today, and we are temporarily without a spiritual father to guide and govern our great Church. But, interesting as it is, this transit through a historic time is a moment of rejoicing and hope, rather than grief and tumult as we anticipate an orderly transition from one pope to his successor.

We trust that the Church will continue its consistent fealty to the Gospels in the face of whatever attacks opposing forces throw against it. We know that the sacrament of confession is there for us if we sin, the sacrament of the Eucharist will be available to give us strength for our daily journey on all the altars of all the Catholic churches of the world, and that we will have someone to marry us, bury us and, if need be, listen to and console us as we make our pilgrimage through this life to the next.

Pope Benedict XVI made the decision to resign his office and “climb the mountain” of living out the rest of his days as the Pope Emeritus. He has told us he will not go back to a private life of clubbiness and being one of the guys. He will, instead, continue his papal ministry without the administrative burdens of being a head of state and the administrator of this worldwide Church.

I take comfort in the knowledge that he will be upholding us all in his prayers. What a prayer warrior he will be for us and for the Church. I am glad to think that he will be able to rest without the strain and worry of managing this Church, which is a worldwide institution of over a billion people. Pole to pole, dateline to dateline; wherever you go on this Earth, I am convinced that you will find three things: MacDonald’s hamburgers, diet Coke, and the Catholic Church.

If that sounds like less than exalted company, consider that both diet Coke and MacDonald’s deal with the universal human need of food, and the Church provides for that other universal human need of eternal salvation. MacDonald’s feeds the body (albeit not too well) and the Church feeds the soul, and it does that very well, indeed.

President Obama, who is often referred to as the most powerful man on earth, governs a nation of roughly 300 million people. The pope, on the other hand, governs a Church of 1.2 billion.

The pope speaks with the only unified Christian voice in the world today. The Catholic Church is increasingly being forced to stand alone in its support for holy matrimony between one man and one woman, sexual chastity, the sanctity of human life, and the hope of eternal life for all people, everywhere.

The moral and prophetic voice of the Catholic Church is the single best hope this world has of surviving its own dissolution.

Pope Benedict XVI decided that his age had brought him to the pass where he needed to hand the responsibility for this great Church forward to his successor. Christians everywhere owe him a debt of gratitude for the suffering servitude he gave to us and to Our Lord these past 8 years. He is handing forward a Church that has not flinched from the responsibility to be the light, shining in the darkness.

Now that he goes to his new charge of praying and working for the Church and all of us until the end of his earthly days, the best thing we can do is join our prayers to his. We may not be the seasoned prayer warrior that he is, but we are God’s own children.

Let us join Pope Benedict in his prayers for the Church and the world.

At the very least,  we can pray as he taught us in his last audience;

“I adore you, my God and I love you with all my heart. Thank you for having created me, for having made me Christian…”

What Happens During a Papal Conclave?


We will have a new pope.

Pope Benedict’s resignation becomes effective February 28, at 8 pm. The See of Peter will not be vacant long. In a short time, the College of Cardinals will convene for the Papal Conclave to elect a new pope.

Catholics and other Christians the world over are praying for the Holy Spirit to guide this conclave as they select the man who will lead the Church through the times ahead. This Lent is like no other because of the Holy Father’s resignation and the transition to a new pope.

History is making while we are watching. I pray that this will lead to a new springtime in the Church, a renewal of faith and faithfulness from everyone who bends their knee to Our Lord Jesus.

The following CNA article gives a brief description of the general procedures that the cardinals follow when they are electing a pope. It says in part:

Vatican City, Feb 24, 2013 / 01:12 pm (CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI’s successor will soon be elected during a conclave, a secret vote of cardinals that will occur in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel next month.

The number of cardinal-electors, who will travel to Rome from across the globe, is limited to 120, and only those cardinals who are not yet 80 are allowed to vote in the conclave.

Conclaves are events of “the strictest secrecy,” to preserve the impartiality of proceedings.

… The cardinals are not allowed to communicate with those outside the area of the election. Only a limited number of masters of ceremonies and priests are allowed to be present, as are two medical doctors. The cardinal-electors stay at “Saint Martha’s House,” a guest house adjacent to St. Peter’s Basilica.

While the papacy is vacant, all the heads of the Roman Curia lose their office, except the Camerlengo – who administers Church finances and property – and the Major Penitentiary, who deals with issues of absolution and indulgences.

The conclave begins with the votive Mass for the election of the Pope in St. Peter’s Basilica. The cardinals then invoke the assistance of the Holy Spirit, and enter the Sistine Chapel.

A well-trusted priest presents the cardinals with a meditation on the problems facing the Church and the need for discernment, “concerning the grave duty incumbent on them and thus on the need to act with right intention for the good of the Universal Church, having only God before their eyes.”

The priest who offered the meditation then leaves the Sistine Chapel, and the voting process begins.

John Paul II allowed for a simple majority for a valid election, but Pope Benedict’s “Constitutione apostolica” returned to the long-standing tradition of a two-thirds majority.

Each cardinal writes his choice for Pope on a piece of paper which is folded in two. The ballots are then counted, double-checked, and burned. The voting process continues until one candidate has received two-thirds of the ballots.

When the ballots of an inconclusive vote are burned, the smoke is made black. If the vote elected a Pope, it is white.

… The man elected is immediately the Bishop of Rome upon his acceptance, assuming he has already been consecrated a bishop. One of the cardinals announce to the public that the election has taken place, and the new Pontiff gives a blessing from the balcony of the Vatican Basilica.

Pope Benedict will resign at 8 p.m. on Feb. 28, and at that time there will be 117 cardinal-electors. (Read the rest here.)

Should Cardinal Mahony Stay Away From the Conclave?

Cardinal Mahony has a “right” to attend the Conclave to elect the next pope, but at least one other cardinal has broached the idea that he should stay home for the “good of the Church.”

“The common practice is to use persuasion. There is no more than can be done.” Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, told La Repubblica Daily. “Ultimately, it will be up to his conscience to decide whether to take part or not.”

Archbishop Gomez, of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and Cardinal Mahony’s successor, recently announced that he was ending Cardinal Mahony’s public work for the archdiocese. The announcement resulted from the release of years of files that were compiled during Cardinal Mahony’s term in office. According to Archbishop Gomez, the files related “brutal” mistreatment of the Archdiocese’ children.

In his statement, Archbishop Gomez said,

“Effective immediately, I have informed Cardinal Mahony that he will no longer have any administrative or public duties. Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry has also publicly apologized for his decisions while serving as Vicar for Clergy. I have accepted his request to be relieved of his responsibility as the Regional Bishop of Santa Barbara.”

Cardinal Mahony has responded to this with a series of blog posts in which he has characterized himself as a “martyr.”

Several Patheos bloggers have commented on Cardinal Mahony’s recent statements. You can find information on Cardinal Mahony’s latest comments at The Deacon’s Bench, or if you want powerful commentary, Egregious Twaddle, Why I Am Catholic and Catholic and Enjoying It have been serving it up with style.

As for me, I just wish Cardinal Mahony would give it a rest. I also wish that he would stay home from the Conclave. I wish that he would stop publishing bizarre blog posts and that he would find the humility to accept that he is not a martyr. He is a miscreant who has been caught in his own sins.

I wish he could have been a better Cardinal and a better priest. If he couldn’t muster that, I wish he had at least been able to be a better man and a better Christian.

In the final analysis, if he had been either a good man or a good Christian, that would have been enough. If he had just been following Jesus, he would never have enabled priests he knew were abusing children to keep on abusing more children. His conscience would not have allowed him to do it.

I am not saying that he doesn’t have many good qualities. I don’t know him, but people are almost always mixtures of good and bad. It’s hard for a man who has spent so many years basking in flattery and cozened by yes men to suddenly find himself “all alone to weep his outcast fate” as Shakespeare put it. It is hard for anyone, but especially so for someone who has been pandered to and pampered for decades to come face to face with the fact that the only lies he has left are the lies he tells himself because everyone else knows the humiliating truth of his dirtiest sins.

I believe Cardinal Mahony is at that place. The blog posts he keeps publishing sound like deep denial with an overcoating of bitterness. They do not sound like remorse or repentance. It seems that he simply will not accept that nothing he says can change what he’s done and that no good he ever did can undo or wash away the harm he’s inflicted.

It appears that he has committed unthinkable crimes against innocent children by enabling and allowing other men to continue abusing them when he knew what they were doing and had the power to easily stop them. No matter how he tries to explain that to himself and to spin his present disgrace as a martyrdom, the facts are the facts and his situation is what it is.

Odd as this sounds, I pray for Cardinal Mahony. His current disgrace is in reality an opportunity. He must face what he has done and repent of it from the heart. There was never a time for excuses. He was always wrong in what he did. Now that the whole world knows it, he needs to stop trying to hide the truth from the one person who still avoids it: He needs to stop trying to hide the truth from himself.

I am concerned where this self delusion will lead him. There is only one way out when you’ve done something this bad and that is the way of the cross. I worry what might become of the Cardinal if he continues down this path of self-deluding self-justification.

He needs to go to Jesus as a broken and sinful man. He needs to grieve the harm he has done, suffer the guilt and endure the shame of it. Only in that way can he find the peace of Christ.

My advice, if I could talk to Cardinal Mahony, would be simple. I would say, Accept that you have sinned, and be quiet.

 

Should There be a Retirement Age for Popes?

Pope Benedict’s resignation, effective February 28, is not precedent setting. It has been done before.

However, the question remains: What does it mean for the Church as an institution?

Now that a pope has resigned, the possibility of a papal resignation is much more present than it was before. By doing it, the Holy Father has made it possible for all of us to consider that his heirs on the throne of Peter might do it also.

It is no longer unthinkable that a pope would resign his office.

I am from a political background, so I tend to look at things like this at least partly in terms of a transference of power. In my experience, power, wherever you find it, always attracts careerists who will shove, bully and manipulate to gain that power. The thought that came to my mind almost immediately after I heard of the pope’s resignation was, Will this lead to people hectoring and manipulating in an attempt to force popes to resign in the future?

Modern medicine gives more people the opportunity to live into a frail old age than ever before. This applies to popes as well as you and me. For any man to be elected pope, he must have lived long enough to have the experience and holiness the position requires. It takes years of walking with the Lord to become holy in the sense that a leader of His Church must be holy. Peter himself was a brash young man who had a lot of learn at the beginning.

Pope John Paul II was a surprising selection for pope for many reasons, his relative youth among them.

Yet, in time, everyone ages. So electing younger popes would only delay the questions I’m raising. It would not avoid them.

One possible way to avoid future popes being pressured to resign would be to do away with the possibility of resignation. Pope Benedict’s resignation was conducted by Canon Law, not dogmatic Church teaching. So, the ability of a pope to resign can be eliminated altogether, making the Papacy a lifelong sinecure with no off ramps.

Another way to do this would be to establish a retirement age for popes. I think it would have to be rather elderly, given that our previous popes have done some of their most marvelous work when they were well past 75.

These thoughts are just me, mentally noodling with the situation. They are thinking thinking, not suggestions, or even formed opinions. Still, I think it’s worthwhile to talk about it. Our pope has resigned. What does that mean to the Church in these perilous times?

There will be a new pope and he will lead us without departing from the Gospels of Christ. I do not doubt that.

But all human beings are frail and fallen. It is inevitable that this new pope — and all those who follow him — will be subject to the increasing viciousness of a world that is moving from moral nihilism to moral self-destruction. The pope, as the leader of the Catholic Church, must stand against the gates of hell.

I am praying for this unknown man as he goes about his days, almost certainly unaware of what awaits him in March. I am also grateful to the core for the steady and unyielding leadership Pope Benedict XVI has given us.

May his tribe increase.

 


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