Friday, March 8, 2013

The Papal Transition: We Have A Conclave Start Date

By Sister Mary Ann Walsh

The conclave opens Tuesday, March 12, with the Conclave Mass Tuesday morning.  The General Congregation voted on this during their afternoon session today.

Snow in the U.S. has delayed some media. WUSA, Channel  9 in Washington, was delayed by snow and expects to arrive tomorrow.  Media are searching for photo ops, even asking if any cardinal will offer Mass at his titular church on Sunday. All cardinals have a titular church. That makes them clergy of the Diocese of Rome, which entitles them to vote for the pope, who is the Bishop of Rome.

We’ve scheduled a briefing tomorrow at 11 a.m., Rome time, with Archbishop Piero Marini and Msgr. Kevin Irwin.  The briefing will focus on liturgical rites related to the conclave. Msgr. Marini, who was  head of papal liturgical ceremonies during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, knows this area thoroughly and literally wrote the book on it. Msgr. Irwin, of the faculty of The Catholic University of America, is a professor of liturgical studies.  Archbishop Wilton Gregory, who will offer commentary for ABC-TV during the Conclave, stopped by the office this morning. We invited him to come to the briefing, if only to be in the audience. He also is a liturgy expert. Depending on the schedule of the conclave, we hope to pursue other briefings.

Vatican Radio, Voice of America and WPIX-TV  from  New York City, stopped  by. Vatican Radio interviewed me, and VOA interviewed Mar in Spanish and Don in English. WPIX declared our office a “command center,” filmed us as we worked and interviewed me while waiting for Joe Zwilling, communications director from New York,  to meet them.

Heading to lunch this afternoon we saw a TV crew set up in the hallway. Since we try not to disrupt college life I panicked a bit, but then found out the CBS crew was working with the college on a story about seminarians and was being helped  by Msgr. Jeff Burrill, of the seminary faculty, and a couple of seminarians. They filmed outside the dining room and then inside as seminarians downed pasta and fish.

Reports on security measures are beginning to dominate the news.   Jamming devices will be installed in the Sistine Chapel to prevent electronic eavesdropping. Staff who serve meals at the Casa Santa Marta, where the cardinals will stay during the Conclave, will be sworn to secrecy. Even who said “pass the salt” is a secret. In this electronic age, I worry some cardinals may go into iPad and Twitter withdrawal.

The Italian newspapers have several stories that predict winners in the papal contest.  Given  the Vatican adage that he who goes into the Conclave a pope comes out a cardinal, one wonders if the saying  offers a measure of relief to some oft- mentioned candidates.
Sister Mary Ann Walsh is media relations director for the USCCB.

1 comment:

Gail Waring RSM said...

Great blog! I read it daily and enjoy the humor!