Saturday, March 18, 2006

THE CONSISTORY: All Roads Lead to Rome

Well, campers, it's almost time. Six days and counting.

Consistory Week kicks off Monday in Rome with the requisite slew of receptions, dinners and pranzos. The Urb will become part-carnival, part-zoo as the Catholic world's prelatial class -- avec sycophants and a veritable produce store full of Wojtyla Fruit -- converge.

For the duration, you won't be able to go anywhere without getting kicked, pushed and assaulted from behind as opportunistic clerics make their way from party to party. And don't go anywhere near Gammarelli unless you're keen to get stampeded.

Thank God I've pushed my trip back.

From the home base of Cardinal-designate Sean O'Malley -- who'll be the guest of honor at a number of functions -- today's Boston Globe covers the pilgrims who'll be going over to honor Beantown's fifth prince of the church since William Henry O'Connell received his red hat in 1911:

Some are traveling in organized tour groups, some in small groups of friends, some with family on a pilgrimage that contrasts sharply with the last occasion on which Bay State residents made such a trip: for the elevation in 1985 of Cardinal Bernard F. Law. There is much less now: less spending by the archdiocese, less celebration, less pomp.

What there is in abundance, the pilgrims say, is hope that the appointment will strengthen O'Malley's hand in rebuilding the archdiocese after the damage done by the clergy sexual abuse scandal and the closing of numerous parishes.

That's right -- there'll be no repeat of the 1985 spectacle when the Boston power elite stood in the gardens of the North American College and serenaded the newly-created Bernard Cardinal Law at his reception with a rendition of "An Irish Mother is a Blessing."

And why can't the Globe's copyboys spell "Monsignor" correctly?
''O'Malley is such a humble man -- he is a monk, no question," said Monseigneur Ronald A. Tosti of Christ the King Parish in Mashpee, who organized a group of 39 pilgrims from Mashpee and Fall River, where O'Malley was bishop from August 1992 to September 2002. ''I know him very well, and it is going to be very difficult for him to come out as a prince of the church, in pomp and circumstance. This is not his style.
The error ruins such a nice paragraph.

Behold, there are more:
Foremost among the events to which the archdiocese is helping pilgrims gain admission are the Consistory Mass next Friday in Pope Paul VI Hall, at which O'Malley and 14 other new cardinals will receive their scarlet skullcaps and hats of office, the Mass of the Rings next Saturday in St. Peter's Basilica, at which they will receive rings symbolizing their roles as successors to the apostles, and a Mass to be celebrated by O'Malley the following day at the Pontifical North American College.
First, consistory is not a Mass, but takes place within the context of the Liturgy of the Word. Second, the cardinalatial ring is not an episcopal symbol, per se -- if it were, then why would Cardinal-designate VanHoye, who has asked to decline episcopal ordination (a request which Benedict XVI acceded to) be getting one?

Note to secular press: The cardinal's ring is a symbol of his bond with the Apostolic See. To keep from falling on your faces repeatedly in what's proved to be a confusion-rich week for many a reporter, be in touch.

See why I can't leave this beat? How I'd love to do commentary for the ceremonies next week; Consistory is my "baby," as it were.

Oh, and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is making the trip.

And the chances of Romney going if he weren't running for president in '08...?

Suzanne Kreiter/Boston Globe