According to Reuters, the Vatican has already had several surprised from Pope Francis in his first 24 hours as pope being the first non-European in 1,300 years as well as breaking more rules than his predecessor did in eight years. With the idea of an unpredictable papacy, an age old institution that usually does everything by the book, Father Tom Rosica a Canadian priest who runs a Catholic television station has this to say: “We are going to have to get used to a new way of doing things.” There is indeed a feeling of change coming to the Vatican as Pope Francis demonstrated in his first words as pope. Instead of starting out with the traditional “Praised by Jesus Christ” or “Dear brothers and sisters”, he chose a rather ordinary start with “Buona Sera” in Italian to address the crowds in St. Peters Square. “I was stunned by what happened last night. I didn’t expect a pontificate to begin with ‘Buona Sera,'” Rosica said. Ont he morning after the election, the Varican tried to accomadate the needs of the new style papacy as Father Fedrico Lombardi, chief Vatican spokesman, explains to reporters about what to expect: “We have to have patience, we are starting something new. There are a lot of things we don’t know yet.” Before stepping out on the balcony of St. Peter’s Bascilica, Franscis decided instead of sitting in a throne like chair in the Sistine Chapel for the obedience pledge that he would come down to the cardinals and stand as they greeted him. He then an hour later decided not to take the limo waiting to take him to the Vatican residence for a meal as Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York explains, “And as the last bus pulls up, guess who gets off? It’s Pope Francis. I guess he told the driver ‘That’s OK, I’ll just go with the boys.'” The only difference between him and the cardinals now is he no longer wears the red robe but white. On Thursday morning the unorthodox papal behavior continued when Francis insisted on paying the hotel bill at the Church-run residences where the cardinals stayed for the conclave. A Vatican spokeman explained in a news briefing that: “He wanted to get his luggage and the bags. He had left everything there. He then stopped in the office, greeted everyone and decided to pay the bill for the room … because he was concerned about giving a good example of what priests and bishops should do.” Jorge Bergoglio certainly brought his reputation for frugality from his native Argentina and is the first pope to take the name St. Francis of Assisi a man who preached the virtue of living in poverty as a gesture of solidarity with the poor. Lombardi said he expects the pope to visit Argentina eventually and will attend World Youth Day in Brazil in July, a Catholic festival that takes place every two years in a different city. And what of Vatican security and their duties to the unpredictable pope? Lomardi could only respond with: “That’s a good question. Vatican security are at the service of the pope and will have to adapt themselves to the pastoral style that the pope will use. A pope’s personal style has to be respected.”
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio a native of Buenos Aires, has taken the name of Pope Francis as the 266th pope of the Catholic Church. On Wednesday, in his first public appearance after the papal election, on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica appeared the new pope Francisco in his white cassock to address the crowds more than an hour after the white smoke was released from the Sistine Chapel chimney at 2:05 EDT (7:05 p.m. CET). Speaking from the balcony, the pope gave his traditional Urbi et Orbi (to the “City of the World”) to the crowd of thousands in St. Peter’s Square as the crowed cheered, cried, and waved for the new leader of 1.2 billion Catholics. He prayed for the church, the papacy, and for his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Before he prayed for the crowd and church, he asked that the crowd bless him. Francis, a Jesuit priest was elected to the papacy after two days of conclave meetings and five ballots cast. Francis will be installed in the coming days, even though his papacy will be effectively immediately, but it’s not clear when the installation will happen as Vatican spokesman Fr. Frederico Lombardi announced on Wednesday that Tuesday March 19 the feast of St. Joseph would be a possible date. Lombardi said this before the white smoke later in the evening as he also said that the new pope will likely celebrate Mass with cardinals the morning after this election. The date of the installation will begin with a visit with cardinals to the grottos of St. Peter’s Basilica where the first pope St. Peter is said to be buried. There he will say,”I leave from where the apostle arrived” before proceeding to the square for the installation Mass where Francis will receive the Fisherman’s Ring made for his papacy as well as the pallium, a woolen stole to symbolize his authority. When Benedict was elected, 12 church representatives knelt in front of him at the installations including three cardinals, one bishop, a priest, deacon, married couple, a nun, and man from a religious order as well as two young people who had their conformation which will likely appear again at the papal installation of Francis as a symbolic pledge of obedience. After the mass, the pope will be driven around St. Peter’s Square to greet the people from around the world and in the following days will visit the three main Roman basilicas aside from St. Peter’s: St Paul’s, St. John Lateran’s, St. Mary Major’s with the first visit St. Paul’s which is right outside the Vatican walls. The first few weeks, Francis will live in a temporary apartment away from the official papal residence while it is being renovated as the apartment was sealed after Benedict’s resignation and church rules say it cannot be reopens until a new pope is elected.
On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I offer our warm wishes to His Holiness Pope Francis as he ascends to the Chair of Saint Peter and begins his papacy. As a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us, he carries forth the message of love and compassion that has inspired the world for more than two thousand years—that in each other we see the face of God. As the first pope from the Americas, his selection also speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world, and alongside millions of Hispanic Americans, those of us in the United States share the joy of this historic day. Just as I appreciated our work with Pope Benedict XVI, I look forward to working with His Holiness to advance peace, security and dignity for our fellow human beings, regardless of their faith. We join with people around the world in offering our prayers for the Holy Father as he begins the sacred work of leading the Catholic Church in our modern world.
The papal conclave that will be held next week has had its share of rumors including competitions between Italian and non-Italian cardinals, cardinals who want access to classified Vatican documents, and several lists with names of potential papal candidates. On Saturday, one of few sources of official information on the Vatican hinted to reporters, according to Huff Post, about the mood inside the general meetings held before the conclave on Tuesday. As Rev. Fredrico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, explained in a brief statement to the the press there’s no reason to believe it will take long for a new pope to be chosen suggesting there may be a frontrunner or multiple frontrunners which could indicate that a new pope could be elected before Friday. If the past is a good indicator, this may very well be true as both Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II were elected in two days. On Saturday, despite rumors on Friday when the date for the conclave was announced and Vatican reporters suggested that Italian cardinals wanted an earlier date to influence the vote before all the cardinals had arrived, during a briefing with Lombardi he denied any huge discussions among cardinals about when to start voting according to the Huff Post. Including Saturday, cardinals have met a total of nine times in General Congregation during pre-conclave meeting to discuss church priorities and a conclave date which Lombardi commented on Saturday that the cardinals decided on March 12 for the conclave with a 10 to 1 margin. There will be no General Congregation on Sunday but will resume on Monday to discuss hopes for the new pope, regional development in the church and improving the curia which is dominated by Italian cardinals.
The spokesman for the Vatican also detailed the timeline for the voting process. Cardinals have already drawn lots for rooms on Saturday for Casa Santa Marta, a guarded Vatican residence, where they will stay during the conclave. Tuesday morning, they will move to the Sistine Chapel through the connected Pauline Chapel where the Mass Pro Eligendo Pontifice (“for the Election of the Roman Pontiff”) will happen at 10 a.m. proceeded by the oath of secrecy at 4:30 p.m. in the Sistine Chapel. After the oath, anyone not involved with the voting will be asked to leave, then the cardinals will listen to Maltese Cardinal Prospero Grech about conclave responsibilities and will vote up to two times. At 7 p.m. prayer will happen and 7:30 return to Casa Santa Marta. Aside from Tuesday, the cardinals will be voting four times a day until two thirds votes or 77 votes are received to elect the new pope. Every time their is a vote and whether the winning vote is taken will determine the color of the smoke which is white for a new pope and black for no pope elected. Before the white smoke can be released, the new pope must accept the position according to Lombardi who also says if the smoke is released at night then the Sistine Chapel chimney will be lit up. If no pope is chosen by Friday, then the cardinals on Saturday will reflect and pray resuming their voting for three days with one day break until the 34th voting round where the two top candidates will have a runoff. When the pope is chosen and white smoke rises, as when Benedict was chosen, the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica will ring which according to Lombardi took about 40 minutes between the two in 2005. On the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, the senior cardinal deacon, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran will shout “Habemus Papam!” or “We have a new pope!” and will present the new pope with the white papal cassocks to give his first blessing as pope.
On Friday, the Vatican announced that the College of Cardinals will begin the papal conclave meeting to elect the next pope on Tuesday afternoon March 12 where all cardinals under 80 years old will be eligible to vote for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s successor leaving 115 cardinals to decide at the Sistine Chapel who will be the new leader of the Catholic Church. The cardinals will vote up to four times a day until two thirds which is 77 cardinals agree on the next pope. In the last conclave that lead to Benedict’s election in 2005, the vote only took two days because the cardinals agreed on the election however the conclave could last much longer if there is no consensus. According to the Vatican press office, “The eighth General Congregation of the College of Cardinals has decided that the Conclave will begin on Tuesday, 12 March 2013….A pro eligendo Romano Pontifice Mass will be celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica in the morning. In the afternoon the cardinals will enter into the Conclave.” Benedict changed the rules of the conclave before he resigned Feb. 28 allowing the cardinals to start it earlier than usual especially since these are special circumstances. The Cardinals have already met eight times since Monday to talk about church priories and pick a date, but the delay in deciding a date occurred because some cardinals had yet to arrive at the Vatican until the last three days. Even before the conclave, cardinals will continue to meet in General Congregations on Saturday and Monday. After the conclave begins on Tuesday, the cardinals will be guarded in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, a Vatican residence, when not in conclave and will not be able to contact anyone outside the conclave including cell phones, media, and Internet.
Cardinals will cast four ballots each day that will be burned twice daily and the smoke from the Sistine Chapel will determine the outcome, with black smoke meaning no agreement has been reached and white smoke indicating a new leader has been chosen. As of yet, no clear front runner has emerged even though a handful of cardinals are rumored to be running, but according to Huff Post Italy on Friday two cardinals have been the focus of press this week which are Brazilian-born Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer and the Archbishop of Milan, Angelo Scola as well as two Americans, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, are also considered long-shot candidates. Several of the cardinals who will vote in the conclave and are potential pope candidates are from Europe. Lombardi on Friday also showed where the new pope will sleep his first night and for several weeks while the papal apartment where Benedict lived is renovated. The apartment was sealed after the resignation and church rules state it can’t be opened again until the new pope is elected.
The Vatican on Saturday scolded the media for running defamatory and false reports before the conclave of Pope Benedict XVI’s successor saying these were attempts to influence the election. The Italian newspapers have been running unsourced reports in recent days about the content of a secret dossier prepared for the pope by three cardinals who researched the origins of the Vatileaks scandal in 2012. The reports claim that the revelations in the dossier given to the Pope in December factored into his decision to resign as Pope. The has only said that because he doesn’t have the strength of body and mind to carry on he will resign Feb. 28. The Vatican secretariat of state said on Saturday according to the Associated Press,” If in the past, the so-called powers, i.e., States, exerted pressures on the election of the pope, today there is an attempt to do this through public opinion that is often based on judgments that do not typically capture the spiritual aspect of the moment that the church is living.” He continued in his statement saying, “It is deplorable that as we draw closer to the time of the beginning of the conclave … that there be a widespread distribution of often unverified, unverifiable or completely false news stories that cause serious damage to persons and institutions.”
Some Vatican watchers claim because the Vatican bureaucracy is heavily Italian that the cardinals might be persuaded to elect non-Italian, non-Vatican based cardinals as pope to force some reform. Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, a papal contender, criticized the division, dissent, careerism and jealousies that afflicts the Vatican bureaucracy. The divisions he speaks of were exposed in the document taken from the pope’s study by his butler and leaked by a journalist according to the Associated Press. The document itself tells of the petty wrangling, corruption and allegations of a gay plot in the highest levels of the church. The three cardinals who investigated the theft from the Vatican had the power to interview other cardinals to get to the bottom of the dynamics in the Curia that caused the security breach. On Saturday, Benedict lamented the evil, suffering and corruption that has defaced God’s creation, but thanked the Vatican bureaucrats for helping him bear the burden of his ministry with their work, faith, love and faith these past eight years according to the Associated Press.
Well I guess no organization no matter how rich and powerful can avoid conspiracies theories and scandal especially since one more won’t hurt the Vatican who is no stranger to accusations. Well with the resignation and looming retirement of Pope Benedict, many people are asking the question was the pope influenced by a secretive “gay lobby” inside the Vatican? The group reportedly making this claim is the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica. The popular paper on Thursday reported that Pop Benedict XVI made his decision to resign this month because of a report accusing Vatican officials of being under the influence of several intern lobbies including a gay one. The Irish Times reports that Benedict commissioned the report, written by a cardinal trio, after Vatileaks scandal last year concluded that various lobbies within the Vatican had broken the sixth and seventh commandment thou shalt not commit adultery and thou shalt not steal. The significance of the sixth has been historically tied to the doctrine that bans homosexuality. The 300 page report will be passed to the pope’s successor, while the Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, has said that those involved will take responsibility for their actions and no follow up will be made to those observations. The Guardian has also reported that another paper Corriere della Sera also mentioned a disturbing report in their Italian daily publication after the pop announced his resignation. The allegation’s are only the latest in a string of theories and conspiracies about why the pope suddenly decided to resign which prompted the wild speculation in the first place. Benedict himself has only further ramped up speculation with his Ash Wednesday homily by referring to internal divisions according to the Washington Post:”I am thinking in particular of the sins against the unity of the church, of the divisions in the body of the church.”
Exciting time for everyone whether Catholic or not because most people only see one pope elected in the church I am young and this will be the second one. The election of new pope may happen sooner than March 15 according to the Vatican even though the rule requires 15 to 20 day waiting period after the papacy vacancy. Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said the rules are open for interpretation and any change to the law would have meet the approval of the pope before he leaves the office. However if Vatican officials determine its a question of interpreting existing laws then the college of cardinals on the first day of the papal vacancy can discuss moving up the conclave. The 15 to 20 day waiting period is to allow all the cardinals to arrive in Rome, but since the circumstances are unusual the cardinals already know the pope will resign Feb. 28 giving them plenty of time to take part in a conclave.
The date of the conclave’s start is important since the beginning of Holy Week March 24 with Palm Sunday and ends with Easter March 31. In order to elect a pope in time for one of the most important week on the church calendar the new pope would have to be installed by Sunday March 17 because of the strong tradition to hold installation Mass on Sunday. Many questions have arisen since the pope announced his retirement on Feb. 11, the first to do so in 600 years. The unique problem here is how to proceed given that usually the plans follow the papal death with a period between papacies are based on this process. Cardinal Franc Rode who will participate in the conclave said that right now the Vatican is not prepared and has not had the time to predict, strategize, plan or pick candidates yet but hopes everything will be in place in two or three weeks.
More details have emerged about Benedict’s final public audience and plans for retirements according to Lombardi who says that 35,000 people have requested tickets for his final general audience on Feb. 27 in St. Peter’s Square. He continued to explain that Benedict will spend two months at the papal summer retreat with him immediately after his abdication until his retirement home is finished- a converted monastery inside Vatican walls. Then he will return to the Vatican no longer as pope around the end of April beginning of May. As whether the pope would meet with his successor or participate in his installation Mass, Lombardi said that both issues are not resolved at this time.