ROME--With the conclave just two days away, a quiet has settled over Rome. Today's main events: the cardinals fanned out across the area to say morning Mass at their various titular churches. Reports on the newsmaking cardinals are starting to trickle in. Journalists swarmed Cardinal Timothy Dolan's titular church, Nostra Signora di Guadalupe in Monte Mario, where, it seems, the cardinal was in not-so-rare form. Michael Paulsen reports:
Where are my St. Louis people? he asked, before chatting with the visitors about the Cardinals. Hows your Uncle Ralph? he said to another. And, to the WCBS-AM radio reporter, Rich Lamb! You are like a Roman monument! To see Rich Lamb in Rome!
His most explicit reference to the conclave was a joke about the meals the cardinals will be served once they moved into the Casa Santa Marta, a Vatican residence where they will be housed until from the start of the conclave until a new pope is chosen. Thanking the worshipers for giving him a large woven basket filled with Italian biscuits, cookies, tuna, and chickpeas, he said, maybe I can take a small candy bar into the conclave. I hear that the food is not good.
Read Dolan's homily (in English) right here. John Thavis was in attendance for Cardinal Sean O'Malley's Mass at Santa Maria della Vittoria, where the cardinal continued to impress his latest bloc of supporters: the Italians.
The rector of the church, Father Stefano Guernelli, welcomed Cardinal OMalley with a talk that stopped just short of being a campaign speech. He recalled telling a reporter about OMalleys qualities as a lovable, humble but decisive man, whose only defect was that he was a Capuchin friar a remark made in jest, but reflecting the fact that its been ages since a member of a Franciscan order was elected pope.
In his homily at todays Mass, OMalley spoke in decent enough Italian (though he mispronounced the Italian word "conclave"), reflecting on the Gospel parable of the prodigal son, and the need for the church to reach out with mercy to people who have grown distant from the faith.He spoke briefly about the conclave, which begins on Tuesday, asking for prayers so that the cardinals will choose a new pope who will confirm us in our faith and make more visible the love of the Good Shepherd, who seeks out the lost sheep, who heals the sick and who embraces the prodigal son."One can leave the house of the father, the church, for various reasons: ignorance, a poor welcome, negative experiences, scandals and spiritual mediocrity," he said.
As Thavis reports, Corriera della Serra's latest reader survey has O'Malley leading Cardinal Scola of Milan by a 2-1 margin.