By Sister Mary Ann Walsh
Today, March 11, we’re working out logistics for coverage of the cardinal electors heading for the Conclave and planning modified photo ops for tomorrow morning. We hope to get all the U.S. cardinal electors for a “class photo,” but won’t know who’ll be in it until 7:15 a.m. tomorrow. We’re also arranging for a pool of still and TV cameras to cover the event.
NBC News was filming at lunch today. This marks another media crew impressed by the overflow crowd of seminarians at the North American College. Ann Thompson was doing the story.
Grew in intercultural awareness today as I discovered that if you ask an Italian to speak for five minutes at a media conference he will speak for 10. If you ask a Brit to speak for 10, he will speak for five. Jesuit Father Norman Tanner was our briefer today and was quite interesting. Father Tanner, a professor of church history at the Gregorian University, said that media played the most important role in redefining the modern papacy. He gave the example of Pope Pius IX (1846-1878), the first pope to be photographed, as the beginning of a cult of personality around the office of the papacy.
Other examples would be his successor, Leo XIII (1878-1903), first pope to be filmed, Pius XI (1922-1939), founder of Vatican Radio, and John XXIII (1958-1963), who became a world figure with his joyful personality and the media attention surrounding the opening of the Second Vatican Council. Father Tanner said the pope who elevated the papacy to an unprecedented level of media stardom was, of course, John Paul II. I would add that even Benedict XVI continued this development as the first tweeting pope.
On the cookie watch: an ABC producer based in London stopped by to build up our supply of Walkers Shortbread.
Greta Kreuz of the ABC affiliate in Washington, WJLA, just got in and like every other newcomer is struggling with her cell phone. I think it took me until yesterday to learn how to answer mine.
There is a huge demand for Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, who is over 80 and thus not an elector. Media are fans of the energetic Cardinal McCarrick. He’s staying until the installation of the new pope, because older cardinals are part of festivities after the election. Cardinal Adam Maida, retired archbishop of Detroit, also over 80, recently arrived here and is also staying at the North American College.
Contributing to this post was Don Clemmer.