Titulo vacante

With the Apostolic See filled with the new Supreme Pontiff, the title of S. Roberto Bellarmino is now vacant. I paid a visit to the titular church formally occupied by Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio this morning.

The church was dedicated to the Jesuit cardinal, saint, and Doctor of the Church, St. Robert Bellarmine, who is similar in many ways to our present pope. The coat-of-arms was never hung on the façade of the church, and so nothing needs to go down. Given the circumstances, I am sure that the parish church will have a commemorative plaque for her former cardinal priest.

I also revisited the Church of Santa Maria Vergine Addolorata a Piazza Buenos Aires (St. Mary the Sorrowful Virgin at the Buenos Aires Square), the Argentine national church in Rome.

The beautiful church features a replica of the statue of Our Lady of Lujan, the patroness of Argentina. The original 16th-century statue of the Virgin of Luján is featured in the National Basilica of Our Lady of Lujan, 60 km away from the capital and metropolitan see of Buenos Aires, the proud archdiocese once governed by Pope Francis.

Pontifex Franciscus

What an experience at St. Peter's Square yesterday. After more than 10 hours standing under an umbrella, white smoke came out, joy erupted and the rain stopped. I will let the pictures tell my story.

Rain has been pouring on and off all day in Rome.
Habemus avem! The first seagull appeared at 4:30 pm, and the second one (or is it the same one?) came at 5:40 pm and stayed on top of the chimney for 40 minutes, seemingly aiding the cardinal-electors underneath with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
The crowd has filled up St. Peter's Square before 7.
Near 7 pm, I knew things would turn well. Given that there are no infirmaries, if no pope was elected in the 4th and 5th ballots, smoke would come out at 6:45 pm. And voilà. White smoke came out at 7:06 pm!
Unlike 8 years ago, the bells of St. Peter's Basilica began to ring right away.
The Swiss Guards and the Vatican Gendarmes came out in formation in their best dresses.
The Cardinal Protodeacon proclaimed "Habemus Papam": Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum; habemus Papam: Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum, Dominum Georgium Marium Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Bergoglio qui sibi nomen imposuit Franciscum.
No one around me knew who the new pope is. I had to explain to everyone about the Argentinean cardinal!
There he comes out! Pope Francis!
I am glad I bought a 1000mm-lens camera just for this occasion! The pictures are priceless!
Pope Francis began to address the Roman people in Italian.
Msgr. Guido Marini prepares to put on the stole on Pope Francis.
Learning from the mistake of his predecessor 8 years ago, Msgr. Guido Marini balanced the stole for the Pontiff before he gave his apostolic benediction. (Too bad Pope Francis refused to wear a mozetta.) I was glad to receive a plenary indulgence.
He continued to address the crowd in Spanish.
What a night! I am sure people slept well last night knowing that the Church is in good hands!


Habemus fumum negrum

Eight years ago, I was at the front row at St. Peter's Square whenever smoke came out from the world's most famous chimney. No exception tonight.

Crowds did not fill in until 5:30 pm. By six, the whole square was totally full.

Thanks to the cardinals that they voted tonight, as the ballot is optional. As expected, black smoke came out at 7:42 pm. (The picture is possible thanks to a camera that I decided to buy for use in this occasion only.)

I have been in the Vatican City State over 9 hours today. It looks like it will be another 10 hours for me there tomorrow. So long for the night, except for those of you who will have to wake up in the middle of the night to watch the holy smoke because of different time zones.


Pontifex Petrus?

The Prophecy of the Popes is an alleged private revelation given to St. Malachy, archbishop of Armagh, Ireland, in the 1130s. It consists of 112 mottoes that are supposed to represent the popes from his time. The prophecy has never been approved by the Church, nor has it been officially condemned.

People connect the mottoes to each of the popes using their birthplace, pre-papal offices, etc., although some connections are weak. Here are the recent popes and their alleged connections to the mottoes:

103 Ignis ardens (Burning fire) - Pius X, who is known for his great zeal for souls
104 Religio depopulata (Religion destroyed) - Benedict XV, who reigned during World War I and the Russian Revolution
105 Fides intrpida (Intrepid faith) - Pius XI, who stood up against Benito Mussolini
106 Pastor angelicus (Angelic shepherd) - Pius XII, who was heroic in his efforts against the Holocaust
107 Pastor et nauta (Shepherd and sailor) - John XXIII, who was Patriarch of Venice, the city of water
108 Flos florum (Flower of flowers) - Paul VI, who used fleurs-de-lis in his coat-of-arms
109 De medietate lunae (Of the half moon) - John Paul I, who was elected pope on a day with a half moon
110 De labore solis (From the labour of the sun) - John Paul II, who was born on a day with solar eclipse
111 Gloria olivae (Glory of the olive) - Benedict XVI, who has been successful in peace and reconciliation with other religions, such as Catholic Traditionalists, Anglicans, Orthodox, Jews and Muslims

The most worrying aspect of the prophecy is that after "Glory of the olive", the prophecy hints at the last pope of the world:

112 Petrus Romanus (Peter the Roman), who will nourish the sheep in many tribulations; when they are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people . The end.

The city of seven hills is of course referring to Rome, and the events seem to be referring to the Apocalypse.

Any cardinal can be considered as a Roman as they each have a titular church in Rome. If the next pope chooses the papal name "Peter II", that would be a very unwise choice and seen as fulfilling the prophecy. But if  the new Pontiff hs "Peter" in his original name, panic will be caused, adding weight to the authenticity of the prophecy. Here is a list of the cardinal-electors who has Peter in their first or middle name:
The first two are considered papabile by many sources, and so the next pope is quite possible to have the name Peter. One name can be crossed out from this list: Cardinal-Patriarch Raï. He will not be elected pope, because the pope is not only the head of the universal Church but also head of the Latin-rite Church. It is inconceivable to have an Eastern-rite patriarch to become the Bishop of Rome.

Whether or not the prophecy was a forgery from the 15th century, we don't have to fear. If it is authentic, there are interpretations of the prophecy that show that there can be unlisted popes between the "Glory of the Olives" and "Peter the Roman" because of the sentence structure. So no reason to panic in any case.

In the conclave in the next few days, I wonder if any of the cardinals above is discouraged from being elected to papacy just because of his name and the alleged prophecy.

Papal Frontrunners

Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris, said a few days ago that "roughly half dozen candidates" came up during informal discussions among the cardinals. We do not know who they are and whether any of those will be crowned pope, but here's my list of half dozen papapile cardinals:

Odilo Scherer, Archbishop of São Paulo (Brazil)
Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York (USA)
Seán O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston (USA)
Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan (Italy)
Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna (Austria)

Below are the Titular Churches of these 6 cardinals. If you can tell which Cardinal-Title will become vacant in a few days, you know who will be the new Supreme Pontiff.

Top left: Gesù Divin Lavoratore (Christoph Schönborn)
Top middle: Nostra Signora di Guadalupe a Monte Mario (Timothy Dolan)
Top right: S. Andrea al Quirinale (Odilo Scherer)
Bottom left: S. Maria in Traspontina (Marc Ouellet)
Bottom middle: S. Maria della Vittoria (Seán O’Malley)
Bottom right: Ss. XII Apostoli (Angelo Scola )

If one of these six cardinals becomes pope, the coat-of-arms of Pope Benedict XVI and the cardinal will that are hanging on the façade of the titular church will have to be replaced with a single new coat-of-arms of the pope. Pick your favourite church.

Charm of Cardinal Dolan

Whenever I'm in Rome, I would visit (and revisit) many churches. Among my favourites are the cardinal titular churches. So far I have visited 136 of them.

With a break from the General Congregations, on Sunday most cardinal-electors celebrated a mass in their titular churches. I travelled to the suburb of Sant'Onofrio, to the Church of Nostra Signora di Guadalupe a Monte Mario, of which Cadinal Timothy Dolan is the titular priest. In 2012 when he was created cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI, he was assigned this title because of the connection of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas, to the United States.

The coat-of-arms of Cardinal Dolan hangs at the portal of the church.

As I arrived, I saw hundreds of people outside of the church (who apparently could not go inside the packed building). 40 reporters surrounded the entrance to the church property.

The church itself is very humble, simpler than most other titular churches in Rome. It can hold no more than 300 people (although probably a thousand people were packed in the church on this event), and lacks any sort of decorations within and without. It has a sizable Spanish congregation that is struggling with the Italian language (which I found out when I attended the next Mass).

The church is quite plain, and the only noteworthy "art" is the Jesus figure on top of the baptismal font, which I don't quite get.
Cardinal Dolan presided in the Laudate Sunday with the distinct rose vestments, and managed to make the Italian congregation laugh during the homily. When the Mass had ended, reporters were expecting the cardinal would exit from the front and address them. Instead he was led to the parish rectory next to the church through a passage from the sacristy. I saw him and quickly decided to go to a soccer field next to the back of the rectory, and occupied the spot closest to the entrance of the rectory. Later I overheard that the cardinal decided to address the reporters. Arrangements were made to lead the reporters to the backyard of the rectory.

To my joy, the spot where His Eminence would stand was just 2 metres away from me, although we were separated by a fence. All reporters were asking questions at once, and Dolan had to start with some jokes. He used his usual charm to make the reporters feel comfortable with him. Of the things that he said, the cardinals had started a novena to St. Joseph, to pray for the guidance from the Patron of the Church in the election process. He also joked that he would bring some candy bar into the conclave because he heard the food in the conclave would not be that good. Finally, he said he believed that the conclave would not last very long, and would be in time to travel back to the States for the Passion Sunday.


Non Habemus Papam

Since the announcement of Benedict XVI of his resignation as Supreme Pontiff, I have been very busy in my demanding full-time job, even though I have a lot to say (and write). As soon as I learned about the resignation, I immediately booked my air ticket to the eternal city. I have been in Rome for a week now, eager to visit many places, but have been non-stop all day and feeling very exhausted in the evening. Nevertheless I'll try to update the blog as much as possible.

There has been some confusion as to the scheme of the balloting when the conclave is prolonged. Universi Dominici gregis 74 specifies that "in the event that the Cardinal electors find it difficult to agree on the person to be elected, after balloting has been carreid out for three days in the form described above without result, voting is to be suspended for a maximum of one day in order to allow a pause for prayer…"

When Fr. Federico Lombardi clarified that this day of reflection (if no pope has been elected) would be carried out on Saturday, many people were surprised. The "three days" of balloting do not include Tuesday, the first day of the conclave, even though there is one ballot on that day. This has always been clarified in the handbook Sede Apostolica Vacante, published by the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff (2005). Since not many people have access to this Italian book, I'll reproduce the scheme of the balloting:

1 (Tuesday, March 12)Mass for the election of the Pope1st scrutiny
2 (Wednesday, March 13)2nd, 3rd scrutinies4th, 5th scrutinies
3 (Thursday, March 14)6th, 7th scrutinies8th, 9th scrutinies
4 (Friday, March 15)10th, 11th scrutinies12th, 13th scrutinies
5 (Saturday, March 16)A day of prayer, informal discussion among the voters, and a brief spiritual exhortation given by the senior Cardinal-Deacon (Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran)
6 (Sunday, March 17)14th, 15th scrutinies16th, 17th scrutinies
7 (Monday, March 18)18th, 19th scrutinies20th scrutiny
8 (Tuesday, March 19)A day of prayer, informal discussion among the voters, and a brief spiritual exhortation given by the senior Cardinal-Priest (Cardinal Godfried Danneels)
9 (Wednesday, March 20)21st, 22nd scrutinies23rd, 24th scrutinies
10 (Thursday, March 21)25th, 26th scrutinies27th scrutiny
11 (Friday, March 22)A day of prayer, informal discussion among the voters, and a brief spiritual exhortation given by the senior Cardinal-Bishop (Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re)
12 (Saturday, March 23)28th, 29th scrutinies30th, 31st scrutinies
13 (Sunday, March 24)32nd, 33rd scrutinies34th scrutiny

From the new motu proprio Normas nonnullas, if the 34 votes do not result in an election, one day shall be dedicated to prayer, reflection and dialogue. In the next balloting only the two names which received the greatest number of votes in the previous scrutiny will be voted upon, and the two cannot vote. This takes place until the two-thirds majority is reached.

What happens if this still results in a stalemate? Canon lawyers suggest that the cardinals can decide to throw away these two names, and have another open balloting again, and later again resort to restriction to two names if necessary.

From recent history, conclaves have been relatively short. Since 1846, the conclaves have never lasted longer than 5 days. I expect this time the new Supreme Pontiff will be elected in 5 votes.