Thursday, March 14, 2013

Papal resignation and conclave - 15

Papal resignation and conclave – 15 (final number)


After a hot shower and a good night's sleep, I wanted to add a few words about my own experience in Piazza San Pietro, as well as a few thoughts about the new pope.


As I mentioned before, the weather conditions in Rome yesterday were characterized by rain and cold for the entire day. After being present in the morning for the first two votes of the day, I returned to the piazza at 4:00 p.m. for the two afternoon votes. I was there early enough to make my way to the center, even with the center balcony and closer to it than to the obelisk, just to give you an idea of where I was standing. It was raining when I arrived and all I could see around me were umbrellas! It was a pretty miserable wait! The rain continued, steadily, until 7:00 p.m., stopping at almost the exact moment of the white smoke.


By that time, as you saw on television, the piazza was full, and I had little or no room to maneuver and stretch my legs a bit. I was cold and wet, and for all those reasons I was wishing for another black smoke result, hoping that the following day conditions would be better and that someone would be elected during the daylight hours. I had convinced myself of this to the point that at about 7:00 I began to push my way out of the crowd, towards the colonnade. But right at that moment a roar went up from the crowd and the bells of St. Peter's Basilica began to ring, so of course I stopped in my tracks.


The flip side of the joy of seeing the white smoke is that it meant that I would be in the piazza for at least another hour or more before the announcement would be made. And, in fact, it came a little over and hour later, at about 8:15 p.m. The famous Habemus Papam announcement by the French cardinal left much to be desired, at least from my vantage point in the piazza. The announcement of the new pope's name was not clear to me, or to any of the other people around me. Everyone kept asking "Who is it"? Finally, some Argentinians nearby informed us that it was Bergoglio. I was very satisfied with the choice, and I encourage you to go back to Papal resignation and conclave – 10 and read the paragraph I wrote about him in that post; it appears just after the list of papabili which I drew up.


Although we will never know exactly how the voting went from one ballot to the next, I think we can surmise that it followed the pattern of a compromise situation after neither of the two front runners, Scola and Scherer, was able to pull away from the other one and attract the undecided voters. During their lunch break on Wednesday, after the two negative ballots that morning, I'm sure the cardinals began to talk among themselves about a compromise candidate, and the name of Bergoglio certainly came up. In the first vote in the afternoon, the Argentinian cardinal most certainly made a good showing, enough to attract sufficient support in the next ballot to reach the needed number of 77. It was not the CHOICE of Bergoglio which surprised, but the SPEED with which the choice was made. He was chosen on the fifth ballot. In the past 100 years, only three popes have been elected with fewer than five ballots: Pius XII in 1939 on the third ballot, John Paul I in 1978 and Benedict XVI in 2005, both on the fourth ballot.


There are several important "firsts" in this election. Bergoglio is the first pope from the continent of the Americas, the New World. He is the first pope to choose the name Francis (I like the sound of the Italian better – Francesco!). The choice of this name was perfect and is being universally accepted with great enthusiasm. The simplicity and humility of St. Francis of Assisi certainly fits the nature of Bergoglio.  He is the first pope in modern times to be elected while his predecessor is still alive. His first act after leaving the balcony last night was to make a phone call to Benedict XVI who was undoubtedly watching on television from Castel Gandolfo. A meeting between the two will surely happen soon, another first.


Well, basta e avanza (enough and more than enough)! You can certainly read and hear all you want about this subject from much more authoritative sources than me!


Thank you all for staying with us over the last few weeks, and thanks as well for all the responses I have been receiving. A new post of interest will be made in the near future. Those of you on the list will receive a notice of the post when it goes up, just as you have been receiving all along.


Karen Cox said...

Magister Drago, I certainly have enjoyed your blogs! You were my Latin teacher a couple of decades ago. My husband & I were at the Vatican in September, 2011 which helps me know more about the locations you mention in your blogs.

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