Monday, March 06, 2006

The Word From Rome

First off, quick story: I called a chancery the other day with a quick question. Having dealt with the staff before, they knew me. But out of nowhere I was asked: "Are you calling from Rome?"

Talk about your shocking moments.

That said, a couple blurbs from the Oltretevere beat:
  • In the recent consistory list, eyebrows were raised and jaws were slacked in the Curia over the non-elevation of Archbishop Francesco Monterisi. While Monterisi's day job -- secretary of the Congregation for Bishops -- doesn't come with a red hat, his transitory role last year as Secretary to the Conclave does; or, at least, it has for the past couple hundred years.... Yet another sign that Benedict XVI is being quite selective with his traditions. In the culture he inherited, he's downright iconoclastic -- something we'll be seeing a bit more of in late April.
  • If you're looking to get a fitting at the legendary clerical tailors Gammarelli before 27 March, good luck. As is always the case at these moments, the atelier who's dressed Popes and clerics of all stripes since the 1700s goes into overdrive to prepare the scads of vestments which the new class of cardinals will need in time for the 24 March consistory and the days of receptions and other ceremonies to follow. (Not to mention the other potentates dropping into town during the festivities who need to replace a frayed something-or-other.) At least for the first go-round, the new cardinals will need three freshly-made cassocks -- the red choir, black simar with cape and the house cassock without it, not to mention mozzetta, ferraiolo (the watered-silk cape worn for formal non-liturgical events) and, of course, the famous red socks. (A separate, heavier set is also made for winter, but those can wait.) For far-flung princes loyal to Roberto and family, as long as their measurements are on file they should be OK, with maybe a quick take-in or two in the days before the conferral of the birettas -- most of which also take their origin from the shop. The long-standing house rule is that, aside from the Cardinal-designate's private secretary, no outsiders may see the nuovo Porporato in his reds until he leaves his Roman lodging to make his journey to the Vatican on consistory morning. Period.
  • Which American bishop got summoned over to meet with a dicastery? Given his record with administrative recourses, seems the curial chiefs felt the need to give this US high-hat a canon law primer.
  • And lastly, at least for now, I won't be able to make my planned trip over for the Super Bowl that is Consistory Week. I was really looking forward to getting back after all this time -- I hear that a lot of expectant Romeheads await my appearance -- but I've got a lot on my plate here right now (i.e. Tupperware containers full of unpaid bills), and before I can do anything, that all has to be taken care of first. After all, if the words in the breeze are right, we won't have to wait long until the next gathering. But, in the meantime, fret not: the A-Team of operatives (not to mention Loggiarazzi) will be on the ground: at the receptions, the trattorias and, most importantly, the ceremonies. So you know where to keep it for wall-to-wall coverage....