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Archive of March 11, 2013

Day before conclave, no clear favorite stands out

Rome, Italy, Mar 11, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - “It’s not journalists that vote in the conclave. It’s cardinals,” Mexican Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera said on Sunday, after celebrating Mass at his titular church of San Francesco di Ripa Grande.

Cardinal Rivera’s words underscore that this conclave could deliver a surprise and the possibility that none of the cardinals mentioned as papabili will be the new Pope.

In fact, now more than ever, each cardinal has approximately the same odds of becoming Pope.

Gianfranco Svidercoschi, the former vice director of the Vatican paper L’Osservatore Romano, told CNA March 11 that “traditionally, the cardinals had two different and contrasting schools of thought: those who want to bring on the Second Vatican Council reform and push the Church toward more collegiality, and those who have tried to slow this push down, trying to give a new shape to the centrality of Rome.

“Nowadays, the debate is not that polarized, and categories like ‘conservative’ or ‘progressive’ (taken from politics and applied to the Church) are not worthy for explaining what is going on.”

This is proved by the presence of Cardinal Jose Luis Antonio Tagle in the College of Cardinals, and his name being floated as a man who is papabile.

Benedict XVI held Tagle in great esteem, ever since he was member of the International Theological Commission, which then-Cardinal Ratzinger led at the time.

On the other hand, Tagle is also one of the authors of the “History of Vatican Council II,” produced by the so-called theological School of Bologna. The School of Bologna saw the Second Vatican Council through a “hermeneutic of rupture,” leading them to believe it caused a “breach” in the history of the Church.

Since his very first speeches as Pope, on the other hand, Benedict XVI proposed a “hermeneutic of continuity” that believed the reforms instituted by the Council were rooted in the Church’s tradition and assumed it, instead of casting it aside.

If one looks at his work with the School of Bologna, Tagle should be considered a “progressive,” but his involvement in the Theological International Commission should make him a conservative. So the question remains: What is his school of thought and theology?

According to Farther Gino Belleri, a priest who has worked closely with the Vatican for almost 50 years, “there is a good deal of confusion among the cardinals. None of them belongs to a peculiar school of thought, and no one seems to have the needed consensus. I am afraid of a long conclave.”

One of the longest conclaves in the last century was that of 1963.

Cardinal Giovan Battista Montini had, in fact, no true contender. But right after the announcement of the death of Pope John XXIII, a number of cardinals gathered in Rome and held informal preliminary meetings.

This alarmed Cardinal Pietro Ciriaci, who commented, “if the result of the conclave was certain, there would not be this sudden coming of foreign cardinals to Rome.”

The 1963 conclave was in fact more tense than expected. At the end of the fourth vote, Cardinal Giovan Battista Montini wanted to stand up and officially withdraw.

In the end he did not pull his name out, and he was elected on the sixth ballot.

What will this conclave be like, since there is no strong polarization and no charismatic characters on the floor?

The late Cardinal Giuseppe Siri, who took part in four conclaves, used to say “a conclave gives birth to a Pope.”

That is certainly true, now more than ever.

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New Pope will have adoration before his presentation

Vatican City, Mar 11, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - In a change to past papal elections, the new Pope will have the chance to adore Jesus in the Eucharist before he makes his appearance on the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Vatican press office director Father Federico Lombardi told journalists March 11 that, “when the Pope goes to the loggia, he passes the Pauline Chapel and will stop there for a brief moment of personal prayer and silence in front of the Blessed Sacrament.”

The Vatican press office was buzzing with journalists looking for news about the March 12 Conclave, which will begin at around 5:00 in the evening.

Before looking ahead to the voting, Fr. Lombardi reviewed the cardinals final general meeting, which was held this morning.

The cardinals made 28 interventions before the assembly voted to end their meetings, given that the Conclave will begin on Tuesday.

Fr. Lombardi reminded the media of the general schedule for the Conclave and then later walked through the ceremony that occurs immediately after a new Pope is chosen.
 
Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the cardinal deacon, will ask the candidate if he accepts his “canonical election as Supreme Pontiff” and what name will use.

If he says yes, then white smoke is sent up while the Pope goes to the Room of Tears, vests in his papal garments and then returns to the Sistine Chapel.

The cardinals then hold a small ceremony that involves prayer, reading the Scriptures and a time for the cardinals to offer their congratulations to the new Pope.

This is followed by the singing of the Te Deum, the Church’s traditional hymn of thanks to God, and a procession out of the chapel.

As the new Pope makes his way between the Sistine Chapel and the balcony where he is presented to the people, he will stop for a brief moment of personal prayer and adoration in the Pauline Chapel.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran will then introduce the new Pope with the famous Latin words “Habemus papam!” This will be followed by the name he has picked.

The total amount of time that will lapse between the appearance of the white smoke and the Pope’s appearance on St. Peter’s balcony will be about 50 minutes.

The first vote of the Conclave could take place on Tuesday evening, and Fr. Lombardi believes that the smoke will appear around 8:00 p.m.

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Over 50,000 send messages of gratitude to Benedict XVI

Madrid, Spain, Mar 11, 2013 (CNA) - A book containing more than 50,000 messages of gratitude to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has been delivered to the Apostolic Nuncio in Spain, who is expected to send it to the retired Pontiff.

The book was delivered to the nuncio, Archbishop Renzo Fratini, by Ignacio Arsuaga, president of the Spanish civil rights website HazteOir.

In statements to CNA on March 7, Arsuaga said that it “is an honor for us to have collected these signs of affection and gratitude” to the Pope Emeritus. 

He added that he hopes the messages to Benedict XVI may “be a tribute to him and to the transmission of a well-founded school of thought that encourages us to continue working as a civil society in defense of the dignity of the person.”

The former Pope, he continued, “has repeatedly emphasized the need for public action by creative minorities able to respond to the present challenges of humanity, especially everything that has to do with the defense and the promotion of life, marriage and religious freedom.”

“This is what we strive to do each day, to contribute from civil society to the building of a better society, to the promotion of the common good for all,” Arsuaga said.

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Florists, bus drivers and technicians take oath

Vatican City, Mar 11, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - This evening 90 people who will assist the Conclave in various capacities took an oath of secrecy not to divulge anything about it or the events surrounding it.

Among the people participating are “religious for the sacristy, religious for confession, nurses and doctors, waiters and food service personnel from Santa Marta, technical assistants, and people who clean Santa Marta and the Vatican,” said Vatican press director Father Federico Lombardi at a March 11 briefing.

The list also includes less obvious personnel, such as florists, minibus drivers who transport the cardinals to the Sistine Chapel, and the heads of the Swiss Guard and Vatican Police.

The ceremony was presided over by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone in the Pauline Chapel at 5:30 p.m.

All of the cardinals – both electors and non-electors – will gather together one last time on Tuesday morning in St. Peter’s Basilica for the Mass to Elect a Roman Pontiff.

The Mass will not be ticketed and will be open to the faithful.

At 4:30 in the afternoon, the cardinals will be admitted to the Conclave by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re in the Pope’s private chapel, known as the Pauline Chapel.

He will say: “Venerable Brothers, after having celebrated the divine mystery, we now enter into Conclave to elect the Roman Pontiff.”

The cardinals will then process to the Sistine Chapel, with Archbishop Georg Gänswein in the lead as head of the Pontifical Household, and they will sing the litany of the saints.

When they arrive in the chapel they will sing “Veni Creator Spiritus” and take their solemn oaths.

Monsignor Guido Marini, the pontifical master of ceremonies, will then declare “extra omnes,” alerting all non-cardinals that they must leave so the Conclave can be sealed.

The Maltese Cardinal Prospero Grech will then preach a reflection on the seriousness of what the cardinals are about to do and emphasize that they should act for the good of the Church.

The first vote will come soon after that, shortly before 7:00 p.m. Fr. Lombardi does not expected smoke to be seen until around 8:00.

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Cardinal Ouellet urges forgiveness ahead of conclave

Rome, Italy, Mar 11, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - In a homily at his Roman parish on Sunday, Cardinal Marc Ouellet encouraged forgiveness and reconciliation, especially through the sacrament of confession.

“The cardinals that will now participate in the conclave will have the opportunity, and will all be invited to confess their sins, so as to choose with purity of heart,” the Quebec native said March 10.

Cardinal Oullet, who formerly served as head of the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops, noted that during the conclave the cardinal electors will be able “not only to confess their sins, but also to offer forgiveness.”

Since cardinals are part of the clergy of Rome, each is given a titular parish for which they are responsible to support and care. Many cardinals said Mass at their parishes to “pray with God's people at this historical time for the Church.”

Santa Maria in Traspontina is Cardinal Ouellet's titular parish, and is located on the Via della Conciliazione, which leads into Saint Peter's Square.

“After His Holiness Benedict XVI’s resignation from his Petrine post, we are all trying to understand God’s will for his Church,” the cardinal reflected.

“Personally, knowing how Pope Benedict meditated a long time and profoundly on his decision, I cannot doubt that he did it following God’s will and for the good of the Church.”

Cardinal Ouellet discussed the Gospel reading of the prodigal son and its message of forgiveness and reconciliation.

“To live reconciliation during Lent, we must offer forgiveness to those who have offended us at home, in the family, at work, or in other circumstances.”

He recalled the example of John Paul II, who visited his would-be assassin to offer him forgiveness, and that of Benedict XVI, who forgave Paolo Gabriele, his own butler who betrayed him.

“Let us rejoice in this good news” of reconciliation, preached the cardinal, which “we should carry to the world and share with all who don’t know Jesus Christ, the treasure of our hearts, the reason for our Church’s existence.”

Going to Mass, he said, is a return to God's love, which we in turn “share with others” as we “offer the forgiveness that we aren’t capable of giving with our own strength.”

Cardinal Ouellet turned to the upcoming conclave, which will begin tomorrow.

“Let us pray together that the Holy Spirit indicates to the Church and the College of Cardinals, him who has been chosen by God, and whom they should indicate by their votes.”

On March 12, at 10 a.m., the cardinals will celebrate a Mass “for the election of a Roman Pontiff,” and at 5 p.m. they will have gathered in the Sistine Chapel. They will then take oaths not to divulge any thing about the proceedings and to vote their conscience before God, and the conclave will begin.

Cardinal Ouellet finished his homily by exhorting prayer for the conclave and the Pope whom it will elect.

“Having faith that the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church to eternal life, let us pray that the cardinals make a good decision.”

“But let us all prepare to receive the new pastor in faith as the one who God has chosen and who will carry Jesus’ mystery – the only savior of the world, the joy of our hearts, our life and our hope.”

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Confession key to Church renewal, Cardinal Wuerl reflects

Rome, Italy, Mar 11, 2013 (CNA) - In a March 10 homily in Rome, Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, D.C. emphasized the importance of the sacrament of confession in liberating the faithful and leading them back to God.

“It remains one of the great marvels of God’s love that God would make forgiveness so readily available to each of us,” Cardinal Wuerl said.

“In the simple actions of contrition, confession, absolution, and satisfaction we are restored to a whole new life,” he explained.

The cardinal’s comments came during his homily at Saint Peter in Chains, his titular church in Rome. Since cardinals are part of the clergy of Rome, each is given a titular parish, which they are responsible for supporting.

Cardinal Wuerl is currently in Rome in preparation for the conclave that begins March 12 and will yield the election of a new Pope.

In his homily, he recalled the importance of hearing regularly about “the possibility to be free from sin.”

The cardinal recounted that a couple who had been married for 50 years once told him that the success of their lives was due to the fact that they make a point to pray together each night, so that they never forget that Christ is “a part of our love, our marriage and our lives.”

The Church and the sacraments are also “great gifts to us from God” to help us remember “that God is a part of our love, our lives, all that we do,” he said.

Cardinal Wuerl referred to the sacrament of confession as “the sacrament of the New Evangelization,” explaining that it “looms very large” in the renewal of the Church's life.

Despite our best efforts, “the worst in us” is at times exposed through our actions, the cardinal noted, adding that this is because of our willfulness and because of original sin, but that we do have a way to overcome these tendencies.

“It is in Jesus Christ...he leads us back to the Father, overcomes the tragic alienation of sin and restores harmony,” he said.

“Not only did Jesus die to wash away all sin and not only in his public life did he forgive sin, but after his Resurrection Jesus also extended to his Church the power to apply the redemption won on the cross and the authority to forgive sin.”

Cardinal Wuerl also commented on the day's Gospel of the prodigal son as an opportunity for us to see in our own lives the son's failure and his father's forgiveness when he repented.

The cardinal emphasized that God makes his forgiveness readily available to every person.

“Fully conscious that only God forgives sins, we bring our failings to the Church because Jesus imparted to his apostles his own power to forgive sins,” he said. “In doing this Jesus gave to his Church the authority to restore and reconcile the sinner with God and also the ecclesial community, the Church.”

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Catholic service requires conscience rights, Boston cardinal stresses

Rome, Italy, Mar 11, 2013 (CNA) - Writing from Rome just a few days before the Papal conclave, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston called on members of Congress to support stronger religious freedom protections in health care.

“In short,” the cardinal said in a March 8 letter, “a failure to provide clear and enforceable protection for a right of conscience could undermine Americans’ access to quality health care.”

“Providers of health care, as well as those who offer or purchase insurance, should not face an unacceptable choice between preserving their religious and moral integrity or participating in our health care system,” he emphasized.

The cardinal, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee, is currently in Rome, where he will soon participate in the conclave that will elect the new Pope.

In his letter, Cardinal O’Malley specifically urged members of the U.S. House of Representatives to support and pass the Health Care Conscience Rights Act of 2013.

Introduced by Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) on March 4, the bill is being co-sponsored by more than 60 members of the House of Representatives.

If passed, the act would ensure conscience protections for health care workers, employers and individuals under the Affordable Care Act. It would secure the religious freedom of those who object to the federal contraception mandate, which requires employers to offer health insurance covering contraception, sterilization and early abortion drugs.

It would also protect medical personnel from participating in abortions if they hold religious objections to doing so.
  
The cardinal’s letter in support of the bill follows a similar message penned in February by Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. That letter also called for legal conscience protections for healthcare workers and providers.   

Cardinal O’Malley explained that ensuring religious freedom in health care “is of especially great importance to the Catholic Church, which daily contributes to the welfare of American society through a network of schools, social services, hospitals and assisted living facilities.”

He continued, adding that these “institutions, which have been part of the Church’s ministry since the earliest days of the Republic, arose from religious conviction,” and therefore are not secular entities. 

Conscience protections are not a partisan issue, but “are foundational to our American experiment,” he said, “and they have allowed people of diverse faiths and belief systems to make their own unique contribution to the common good for two centuries.”

“While those protections have long enjoyed bipartisan consensus, they are under greatly increased pressure today,” he said, pointing to regulations including the contraception mandate that threaten to coerce objecting individuals and organizations into violating their convictions.

The cardinal explained that in light of these threats, “legal protections which allow us to fulfill our obligation to serve others, without compromising our religious or moral convictions, are essential to the continued vitality of these ministries.”

“Resolution of this concern will benefit our working together in our country to serve those most in need,” he said.

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