Skip to comments.Day Six: Timeless Skies – and Electoral Blocs
Posted on 03/10/2013 7:58:54 PM PDT by NYer
Let’s hope the cardinal electors make the daily transit unharmed across the Vatican from their rooms in Casa Santa Marta to the Sistine Chapel, and back. If anything happened to even one of them, who knows what it would mean for the whole canonical process?
Today (Sunday), though, started as one of those sunny, clear-air days more typical of Rome (there was a downpour of Biblical proportions with rolling thunder by the afternoon, which drove the news people down off the Roman roofs). We can’t say, of course, whether the climate of ancient Rome resembled what it is now. Climate change, on quite a large scale, has been happening since long before our species made its appearance. But there are days in Rome when eternity shines through and, in certain places, you might as easily think you’re living in the time of the early Church here as in the twenty-first century.
Sunday was a day for the cardinals to say Mass in their titular churches, spread all over the city. And these took place not only under timeless sunny skies but under the close scrutiny of the news hungry press as well. NY Cardinal Dolan, who has captured the imagination of the Italian media, had around seventy-five reporters at his Mass in Rome’s Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Asked after by an Italian reporter whether it would be a short Conclave, he said he didn’t know, but “Let’s hope.” The other often mentioned American papabile, Sean O’Malley of Boston, celebrated his Mass at Santa Maria della Vittoria, appropriately for a mystical Franciscan, the church that houses Bernini’s famous Ecstasy of St. Theresa of Avila.
Cardinals Scola, Ouellet, and Scherer: leading contenders . . . today
Insofar as we can peer into the coalitions that have begun to form among the cardinals, the broad numbers seem to fall out like this: Angelo Scola (a student of Ratzinger’s who has also been shaped by the spirituality of Communion and Liberation), around 40 votes; Canadian Marc Ouellet has between 10 and 15 supporters, but seems to be stronger than that number suggests (Supreme Knight Carl Anderson took communion at Ouellet’s Mass Sunday); Odilo Scherer, a Brazilian being pushed by the Curia, may have 20 to 30 backers, but his chances seem weaker than his numbers.
At most, these estimates account for about 85 of the 115 cardinal electors. So there are at least 30 votes in play even before the horse-trading begins. If history is any guide, the first ballot on Tuesday (the only one that day) is meant to take the general temperature of the college. Electors are expected to begin to see if a preferred candidate has any real chance or whether they need to move towards a compromise candidate who will at least pursue most of what they want.
In a small electorate like this, there’s a well-known phenomenon that can work against an early front-runner. Since it’s clear that at this point no one is likely to gain the 77 votes (two-thirds) needed on the first ballot, an early leader may begin to attract supporters in coalition – or he may galvanize blocs of opponents in the ballots that immediately follow (four per day) who may decide to make it clear very early that they won’t allow a given candidate to move forward. According to reports (which are not supposed to exist, but do), that has happened in a couple of recent conclaves. The Italians especially remember a 1978 split in their ranks between two candidates from Italy, which allowed John Paul II to be elected.
As the case of Wojtyla shows, the Holy Spirit seems quite adept at electoral politics and knows how to do great things even with human discord.
Pay close attention to the early leaks. This whole thing is likely to be over by the end of the week.
What that news might be, I’m surprised to say, may very well be: literally everything. The cardinals continued their General Congregation today, which is supposed to be a discrete, private, “sworn-to-secrecy – and excommunication-if-you-break-the-oath” – affair. Even simultaneous interpreters and staff have sworn in a way to put their eternal salvation in jeopardy if they leak. And yet, we knew almost as it was unfolding not only virtually everything the cardinals discussed today, but in some instances, which cardinals spoke to which questions.
It’s no surprise that more cardinals than ever, we’re told, spoke to reforming the mechanisms of Vatican governance, and that the discussion was both “frank and fraternal.” That after all was why Benedict thought he had to resign. But they also spoke bluntly about relations with Islam (an “African cardinal”), bioethics, women in the Church (Sandri), collegiality, more direct contact between the pope and his bishops, and many other subjects.
If you’re dying to follow the cardinals’ deliberations and are trying to read the tea leaves about who might be emerging as a frontrunner, of course, this is all quite interesting. If you’re concerned that the cardinals must be able to operate without outside pressure when they enter the Sistine Chapel, it’s another affair entirely.
Because there’s a real possibility that we may have virtually live voting tallies, day by day, from the Sistine Chapel, even – who knows – video. It’s difficult to know where these leaks are coming from, and I don’t want to overemphasize this particular point. But sophisticated devices, maybe only as sophisticated as a Smartphone now, may be all that are needed.
Inside Casa di Santa Marta
This will be the second Conclave in which, as well, the cardinals will not be literally locked into the Sistine Chapel for the duration. John Paul II did away with that after his experience with those arrangements – little “cubicles” created with ropes and blankets, and minimal toilet facilities for elderly men with aging prostates who had to hike repeatedly to distant facilities to urinate at night.
That was the impulse behind the creation of the Casa di Santa Marta, a kind of modest hotel on the grounds of the Vatican. But this means that the cardinals will walk or ride twice a day from one side of the Vatican to the Sistine, and back. Ample opportunity for security breaches even more extensive than those we are already witnessing.
I visited with the Swiss Guards a few days back – I wrote the history of the guards for their 500th anniversary back in 2007 and they are kind enough to talk with me when they can. They are only responsible for the physical security of the cardinals. The Vatican government, the governato as they call it, has the responsibility for the secrecy of the event. The gendarmaria, the Vatican police force, along with expert consultants they bring in from outside, are supposed to deploy jamming devices to disrupt electronic leaks.
We’ve seen how well that’s been working. And we may be surprised at how porous a “secret” event can be these days. I’ve said it before on this page, but if you can’t even manage the kind of secrecy you must have in this day and age to carry out a delicate process like a papal election, the administrative side of the Vatican needs very deep restructuring indeed.
** But sophisticated devices**
I thought they had to check all their electronic stuff when the conclave starts.
The lesson of Sistine Chapel (What the Cardinals electors will see when they enter the Conclave)
Letter #39: 48 Hours To Go (until the Conclave)
The men who could be pope: Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle
The men who could be pope: Cardinal Timothy Dolan
The men who could be pope: Cardinal Peter Turkson
The men who could be pope: Cardinal Angelo Scola
Conclave: timetable for first days
Day Four: The Great Game Begins (Daily Conclave Report)
What have the cardinals been doing? One of them explains
BREAKING NEWS: Cardinals select Tuesday, March 12 for conclave
Inside the Conclave: A Visual Chart
Youve heard about Pope on a rope how about a cardinal on a bike?
Where cardinals will stay during Conclave
Letter #37: A Living Stone
Conclave date to be announced after 7 pm local time
Is this Cardinal, Pope Emeritus Benedict's candidate to be his successor
Cardinal plotting anti-Ratzinger progressive Papacy
Vatican post office sells over 150k Vacant See sets
General congregations: With all electors present still no date for Conclave
LA's Cardinal Mahony tweets: We're close to setting conclave date
Patriarch Raï: The Conclave from a Middle Eastern perspective
Curia silences U.S. cardinals: You talk too much
Little-known Facts about a Papal Conclave
Filipino Cardinal Stirs Papal Talk With Rapid Rise
Letter #36: Silence (victory for the old guard of the Vatican)
General congregations: Profile of future Pope emerging from sessions
Cardinals contemplate insider, outsider papal candidates
College of Cardinals imposes media silence after breach
Last Two Cardinal Electors Will be in Rome by Thursday
Letter #33: Sistine Chapel Closed (approx 5 days for workers to prepare for conclave)
Pope Prediction: 10 Reasons Cardinal Burke Will Be the Next Pope
Popeless but not Hopeless
Election of Pope Trivia Quiz
Black Socialist Pope to Follow Black Socialist President?
Pope watchers keeping tabs on Vatican 'backroom boys'
Catholicism, True Reform and the Next Pope
Cardinals announce adoration, Vespers ceremony for conclave
When Will the Conclave Start? Pope Benedict's Final Legislative Act
Vatican Diary / The "who's who" of the new pope's electors (broken down by continent)
Letter #31: The Program, and the Sheriff (Mahony, Sandri, Anti-Pope)
Famous last tweets before cardinals enter media blackout of conclave
Cardinal O'Malley lists sex abuse, Curia reform as priorities
Old establishment cardinals hope for quick conclave
Cardinals Begin Pre-Conclave Meetings Amid Scandal
Lombardi: 12 Cardinal electors yet to arrive as 1st Congregation concludes
A ticket to vote for the first Latin-American Pope
Three candidates for Pope who are on few people's lists
Omens and portents and signs! OH MY! (minor earthquake near Castel Gandolfo)
Church changing big time, says Cardinal Dolan
Letter #30: The Next and the Last (media, papabili, Ganswein in tears)
Editorial: "Religious correspondents", "Vaticanists": don't know more about Conclave than us
During Sede Vacante what must priests say in the Eucharistic Prayer now that there is no Pope?
What is a [Catholic] Cardinal? A Basic Review of the College of Cardinals in History and Today
Benedict XVI's first night as Pope emeritus
Toward the Conclave. The Pressure on the Cardinals [Catholic Caucus]
Papal Apartments, Basilica Sealed for Sede Vacante
Update on Conclave Start Date
Cardinal Dolan: Pope Benedict 'fragile' on last day of papacy (good handling of msm)
Prayer for the Election of a New Pope
Interregnum Terms and Expressions, Q and A Format (Nuts & Bolts-current situation) [Catholic Caucus]
After the conclave begins, do the cardinals talk to each other between ballots, or do they maintain silence and just pray and think to themselves whom they might switch their vote to, if their favorite doesn’t seem to have a chance?
It used to be that each ballot had a sealed section with that cardinal's crest (or whatever it would be called). After there was a ballot which someone one, they would open up the sealed part to make sure that man had not voted for himself. It sounds like that is no longer done.
The guideline assumes that the person chosen will be among the electors--that almost always happens (maybe Celestine V was the last exception) but they could elect a cardinal who is past his 80th birthday or a non-cardinal.