I've been kind of busy. Sorry.
But here's some stuff to read about the Conclave.
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I can't tell you how many times I've been asked by passing journalists, doing their drive-by interviews, why Benedict is so much less popular than John Paul II was...
One of them asked me this when I was on the way into the Piazza for the Last General Audience where I got about ten feet past the Colonnade before I was stopped by a wall of humans...
errr... buddy... have you looked at this crowd?
VATICAN CITY—Cardinals, clergy and common pilgrims erupted into thunderous applause at the mention of “pope emeritus” Benedict XVI on Tuesday at a special mass in St Peter’s Basilica ahead of a conclave to elect his successor following his surprise resignation.
The applause lasted nearly a minute after Cardinal Angelo Sodano, in his homily, evoked the “brilliant pontificate (of) the beloved and venerable Pontiff Benedict XVI”.
Now that he wasn't there to tell us to knock it off.
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Gloomy, bored and restless: MSM journalists ain't got nothin to do. They clearly didn't expect to be sitting around in cafes interviewing each other. You seriously can't get a cup of coffee anywhere within a mile of the Vatican these days without pushing past a bunch of American or German or Italian press. Big cameras, covered in rain gear, sitting on the tables...
As each day passes without a date set by the cardinals for the start of the conclave, the more than 5,000 journalists accredited to the Holy See in the last few weeks are growing more gloomy, bored, and restless. Most of the world’s secular press is represented at what is understood, somewhat vaguely, to be an event of huge importance, but few have a thorough understanding of the nature of what they are covering.
They expected exciting press conferences with bona fide cardinals who would talk about the substance of their discussions. They expected, at the very least, regular bulletins issued by the Holy See Press Office giving updates on the progress of the deliberations. Or at the very, very least they were looking forward to a fascinating give and take between cardinals and “experts” on the issues, the positions of various factions, their priorities and expectations.
What they’ve had is Fr. Frederico Lombardi telling them again and again in response to questions, “I’m sorry, we have no information about that.” Throughout the week, with the official media center set up by the Vatican being a highly restricted area, with Wi-Fi and cell phone access shut down except on the provided computers, most journalists have been relegated to watching the press briefings piped in through closed circuit TV cameras from a separate building. Permits are required to set up a tripod anywhere around St. Peter’s and the Vatican, and even carrying a hand-held camera and too obviously interviewing passers-by will sometimes earn a rebuke from the Vatican Gendarmes.
But media people are not accustomed to these kinds of restrictions, or the closed-mouthed approach of the Vatican. They didn’t expect to hear about oaths of secrecy, threats of excommunication for people talking to the press. They didn’t expect to be asked for €500 for permission to upload video content and e-mail it overseas. This just isn’t how the rest of the world behaves towards them. In the rest of the world, they are courted, and plied with dinners, drinks, and juicy bits of information in equal amounts.
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Dark Horse Cardinals: the bad news.
And the less bad news.
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