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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.

(I'm in Rome this week covering the papal transition for NET, the Diocese of Brooklyn's television station. I'll file periodic updates at dotCommonweal, and you can follow me on Twitter here.)

About the Author

Grant Gallicho is an associate editor of Commonweal. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.



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I wish the Vatileaks reporters would break into the residences of the Cardinals to report on what books they have brought with them."It happens that Cardinal Dolan has been reading since Christmas the new book, 'The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity,' by Robert Louis Wilken, the eminent Church historian at the University of Virginia.",8965?content_source=&cat... would be a refreshing change from the quoting of anonymous sources about the need for openness and transparency.

How can this be? Observer says Herranz of Opus Dei has refused to reveal to his fellow cardinals what's in the binders. From the article:"In the Relatio are the findings of three cardinal-detectives, appointed last year by ex-pope Benedict XVI to investigate the leaking of documents from his study. The cardinals, headed by a Spanish member of the Opus Dei fellowship, Cardinal Julin Herranz, discovered the main source of the leaks the pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele."But they found a great deal else and some of it is reportedly extremely compromising. According to one unconfirmed report, they stumbled on a gay sex ring in the Vatican, some of whose members had been blackmailed."... "On the first day of last week's pre-conclave discussions, known as general congregations, three cardinals demanded that Herranz circulate the Relatio. For Massimo Franco, author of a recently published book on the protracted crisis rocking the Vatican, this was more than just prurient curiosity. 'The cardinals must vote with a clear view of the situation in the Vatican,' he said. 'Otherwise, they could be voting for a pope who is accused of wrongdoing in the report. If that comes out afterwards, it would cause mayhem.'"

The Romans got their way 8 years ago, and since then we've had a chance to see how wise their choice was, and what an advantage it is for the pope to be an insider in order to handle management issues (or not). Now that they have had their turn, perhaps they will step back and let the cardinals from the rest of the world have a go at it. That would only be polite.

My man is tied for first place (and he's not the Canadian): there and vote. This is the ONLY PLACE that you, a lowly non elderly cosseted courtier of the ancien regime, CAN vote.

Rather than Romans and Barbarians, how about Tea Partiers and Rockefeller Republicans?There would, of course, be NO Democrats, big or small "d".

"This is the ONLY PLACE that you, a lowly non elderly cosseted courtier of the ancien regime, CAN vote."Not quite. Corriere della Sera is also running a poll. So far, Cardinl O'Malley has twice as many votes as anyone else. Cast your vote here: voting reslts here:

I will go against Snap on this one and approve O'Malley. He is most likely a good choice to clean up the Vatican Bank which seemed to annoy Ratzinger as much as the leaks.

Supposing after three days the cardinals have not reached a decision and, according to the rules, they take off next day, Saturday, March 16th, for prayer. (Apparently, canonists say the third day would be Friday but the Vatican says Saturday.)Then on Sunday, March 17th, they elect a pope with Irish heritage. Not so fast, it may not be O'Malley or Dolan. Cardinal Shnborn's great-great-great grandmother was Irish.Paddypower has 12/1 odds on Shnborn.

Question: When in the conclave is not actually voting, may the cardinals discuss matters amonst each other? Especially in the time between the two morning votes and the time between the two evening ones, will politicking be allowed in the Chapel?

Ann Olivier:Yes, to the first. No, to the second.

John Page:The Sistine chapel is secured against bugging devices but is Casa Santa Marta?Prediction: There WILL be leaks.

Helen:Yes, the Casa Santa Marta is secured against leaks.Re-constructions of the voting, numbers of ballots and the votes each cardinal received, always seem to emerge over time, usually fairly quickly. There may be disputes about some particulars, but the general lines of how things went usually hold up.La Repubblica has a site that shows how many ballots were needed to elect each of the last nine popes, Pius X to Benedict XVI.

O'Malley for pope

I either read or heard somewhere that Pope Benedict instituted (or re-instituted) a voting rule for the conclave that the vote must be 2/3 majority rather than simple majority. Is this correct?

JP2 had changed the rules so that after 30+ unsuccessful ballots, election could be by absolute majority instead of 2/3 majority. That means one faction could simply hold on for two weeks to get their candidate elected.Benedict changed the rules back, so that election would be by 2/3 majority, forcing it to be a consensus candidate, though they are forced to choose among the top two choices in the previous election.No one expects the elections to go that long; these rules affect earlier balloting. In 2005, once Ratzinger had a majority supporting him, there was no longer any reason to contest the election since that majority could elect him eventually, so support switched immediately to him.JP's system gave an immediate winner, since one of the two candidates would get a majority of the votes. Benedict's allows for a longer deadlock, though anything longer than a few days will be most extraordinary.

If you want some light relief on this subject, go read P.G. Wodehouse's "The Great Sermon Handicap" in his The Inimitable Jeeves. It's about some charming but useless young men with time on their hands in an English country house, who decide to make book on the the length of the sermons in the neighboring parish churches, and it's very funny and very foolish. Rather like this sort of thing.

John Page ==Thanks, but I don't understand your answer. I was asking about what goes on in the Sistine Chapel when the voting is not actually going on. During this "free time" may the cardinals confer?

Ann Olivier:As I understand it, the voting is a very ritualized process. The cardinals stay seated in their places till it is the turn of each one to approach the altar with his ballot. They then wait in their places for the calling out of the votes. If the vote is inconclusive, they proceed immediately to the second ballot of the morning or afternoon. There is no caucusing in the Sistine Chapel. Outside the voting sessions, small group meetings are certainly possible.

I'm still holding out for John Onaiyekan of Nigeria. A true dark horse in multiple senses of the word. Thank goodness that Turkson is no longer considered a possible. He would be a total disaster ... even worse than Sodano, Bertone or Dolan.I'll accept all congratulations when they are appropriate.

Have you seen the March 11 Washington Post story about the three Donilin brothers from Rhode Island? Tom is a national security advisor to President Obama. Terry is communications director for Cardinal O'Malley. While Tom is expected to step down this year, there is a third brother, Michael A., who is a longtime political aide to Vice President Biden.More support for arguments against an American pope.

Jim McC. ==Cardinal Oneiyekan is one of my two favorites. Most impressive youngish man. The other is Ravasi who listens to everyone. But it looks like Scola (full of stereotypes of women and gays) will win. Sigh.OK, everybody: Who do you like best? Who do you think will win??

John Page --Thanks for the info.In the 2005 conclave there were 117 electors, so I assume that in this conclave each round of balloting will take about the same length of time. I've read that the results of the morning voting should be available around noon Rome time. Because U. S. Eastern time is 5 hours earlier than Rome time, New York should probably get those results around 7 a.m. In other words, no morning winner yields black smoke in Rome at noon, and New York gets the results at 7 a.m. While Central time would get the noon Roman results around 6 a.m. Is this right?(As to the afternoon votes, I'll think about that tomorrow.)This is some horse race, isn't it?

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