Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"We're Looking For An Awful Lot" – As Pope Resigns, The Electors Speak

And now, it's all in their hands – 117 Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church locked before Michelangelo's "Last Judgment" to elect the 266th Pope: a tenth of them from these shores, and all of them equal – literally, in international law, each a "crown prince" of the Holy See during an interregnum in the Vatican.

While some remain to comment – and at least one red-hat flew out of Rome yesterday knowing nothing, only to be stunned to hear the news on touching down – several close to home already have started to speak. 

Given what awaits them soon, here are their statements.

To be sure, seniority – first by order in the College, then order of creation – is the name of the game in situating a Conclave. From his retirement base in Knoxville, though, we'd be remiss to start anywhere but with the three-decade veteran of the Roman Curia who ever remains Pharaoh....

Returning to the Roman pecking-order, a blogged statement from the senior Stateside elector – Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, elevated in 1991...
Pope Benedict XVI has been an extraordinary Successor to St. Peter these past eight years, and I thank God for the graces and blessings which have come to the Church and to the world during his Pontificate. 
It was my privilege to participate in the Conclave of April 2005 when Pope Benedict was elected. I recall so clearly his words when he told the Cardinals that he was choosing the name of Benedict because of his fondness for the prayerfulness and the Rule of St. Benedict, and also because Pope Benedict XV [1914—1920] served during a time of turmoil and wars across the world. 
Pope Benedict XVI began his Petrine ministry from a firm foundation of prayer, holiness, and remarkable scholarship. Before the end of 2005 he issued Deus Caritas Est, a letter on the virtue and gift of charity and love among the disciples of Jesus Christ. Two more followed: one on hope in 2007, the third on faith in 2009. 
His homilies and addresses were so amazing because he was not speaking about Jesus Christ as a topic, but he was speaking about Jesus from a deep and intimate knowledge of Jesus himself. It was that attraction to the person of Jesus Christ which flowed from all his many teachings for the Church and the world. 
Surely one of his great legacies will be a continuing emphasis on the need for all Catholics to exercise their role as evangelizers in the world. His focus upon the new evangelization will continue to enliven all disciples of Jesus. 
The Church will continue to be blessed by his prayer lifted up for the needs of the world, as well as by his writings which will continue to nourish the minds, hearts and souls of Catholics around the world. 
I look forward to traveling to Rome soon to help thank Pope Benedict XVI for his gifted service to the Church, and to participate in the Conclave to elect his successor.
Having pledged to tweet the transition from Rome, in a follow-up post, Mahony warned against what he termed the "premature speculation" already afoot, noting that the chatter so far has "seem[ed] to follow a 'secular election mentality.'  

One of just three US voters to be returning for his second Conclave, the LA emeritus observed that "the American media, in particular, are viewing this opportunity in the Church from the perspective of American political elections.  Wrong.

"Fortunately, the election of the Successor to St. Peter is in the power of the Holy Spirit, not earthly electoral pundits."

Elsewhere, meanwhile, the following comes the American hierarch thought to be closest to B16 – Cardinal Francis George OMI of Chicago, whose succession at the helm of the 2.3 million-member Windy City church will seemingly be a matter for the next Pope....
Pope Benedict XVI has, in all circumstances, placed the will of God for the good of the Church before every other consideration. That same resoluteness of purpose speaks in his statement announcing his resignation from the Chair of Peter. 
He has taught with clarity and charity what God has revealed to the world in Christ; he has handed on the apostolic faith; he has loved all of God’s people with all his heart. He has now shown great courage in deciding, after prayer and soul-searching, to resign his office at the end of this month. 
With the gratitude of sons and daughters in our hearts, we ask the Lord to bless him and give him strength, as we begin to pray now for the one who will succeed him as Bishop of Rome, Successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ.
From Benedict's first residential US creation, Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley OFM Cap....

...and the first-ever papal elector from the American South, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston:

At a presser yesterday, the statement and Q&A of his mentor's Conclave aide for both the elections of 1978, now Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington....

Following his USCCB tribute and Today show appearance yesterday, the presser remarks of Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York....

...and a live Timfest with Diane Sawyer on ABC's World News Tonight:

via SiriusXM radio's Catholic Channel, a lengthy report from the Bronx-born Cardinal Edwin O'Brien – the former archbishop of Baltimore and the Military Services, now living in Rome as B16's chosen grand master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre – one of the roughly 50 clerics in the Sala Consistoro as the announcement was made:

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The coming Conclave's second-largest national bloc after 28 eligible Italian red-hats, as the Stateside voters go, we still have yet to hear from Cardinals William Levada (retired CDF prefect, now living in his native California), the Wisconsin-born Raymond Burke, the first American to be named the Vatican's "chief justice" by B16 in 2008, and the junior of the bunch – Milwaukee's own Jim Harvey, now archpriest of St Paul's Outside the Walls, who was elevated at last November's Consistory. Once each emerges, their comments will be duly added.

Finally, though, since he's an honorary member of the home-club, our last word for now comes from Points North – here, in an interview this morning on Canadian TV, an explanation of the process and other assorted musings from the humble hobbit of Toronto, Cardinal Thomas Collins, who was elevated a year ago this week:

For these guys, the weeks to come will be something akin to Times Square, the intersection of Yonge and Dundas, you get the idea.

Whatever the case, the analogy is the same – right now, they find themselves at the crossroads of a church... and, well, here's to their safe and peaceful journey through it.