Cardinals fan out among Rome's churches
ROME — Roman Catholic cardinals asked for prayers of support, joked with parishioners and kissed squirming babies.
On the eve of what might be the most important decision of their lives, the men who will choose the next pope made their likely last scheduled public appearances on Sunday, preaching at churches across the city while attempting to dodge journalists.
Several alluded to the conclave, the private meeting in the Sistine Chapel in which 115 of these most senior prelates will elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI. It will start on Tuesday.
Archbishop of Washington Donald Wuerl, formerly bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, asked for his parishioners' prayers and support at the end of a brief sermon in the San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains) church. To his left was a majestic 16th-century marble sculpture of Moses by Michelangelo.
“That's all I can say about the conclave,” Wuerl said, noting that the cardinals had voted not to give interviews until after the conclave. “All we can say about the conclave is we are having one.”
Sunday was the fourth Sunday of Lent, and so a theme of sacrifice was typical in the sermons. The Gospel for the day featured the parable of the prodigal son, which Wuerl said shows a father's eternal willingness to forgive.
Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, Italy's largest diocese, and often mentioned as a leading candidate to become pope, sounded a similar note.
In a 13-minute homily in the centuries-old Santi Apostoli basilica (the Church of the Twelve Holy Apostles) near Rome's famous Trevi Fountain, he said the Catholic Church's message ought to convey the idea of God's mercy as a source of hope.
Afterward, Scola asked an estimated 150 worshippers to pray for the Holy Spirit to guide the cardinals' choice of a pope who would lead the church along the same path as the great pontiffs of years past.
In the nearby church of Sant'Andrea al Quirinale, Brazilian Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer was met by reporter as he arrived to lead Mass. Scherer makes many short lists of possible popes.
Scherer told the congregation that it was a “time of joy and hope.” He preached for 20 minutes, then delighted the packed church by blessing a couple celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary.
He was mobbed by well-wishers and television cameras before disappearing into the back of the little church, a 17th-century masterpiece by the architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini known as the “pearl of the Baroque.”
Every cardinal, upon his elevation, is assigned his “titular church” in Rome in keeping with Catholic belief that the pope is the “bishop of Rome” and the cardinals are Rome's parish priests.
The famously gregarious Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York received something of a rock-star welcome at the packed church of Nostra Signora di Guadalupe in a working-class suburb of Rome and seemed to lap it up.
Accompanied by the resident choir and a group of American priests, Dolan led Mass after stopping to kiss babies in the crowd. Inside the modern church, he won applause and laughter from parishioners by saying, in accomplished if heavily accented Italian, “This is a big crowd, let's do two collections!”
Asked after the Mass about the challenge of picking papal candidates with his fellow cardinals, Dolan said, “You get to know them, you listen to them, you say a lot of prayers, and it works.”
Would it be quick?
“I don't know,” he said. “I hope so.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ex-host of radio’s ‘Q’ charged with sex assault
- 2-month Hong Kong occupation near end
- U.N. argues against redactions in torture report
- Russian fliers have to get out and push
- U.S. forces help rescue hostages in Yemen
- Israelis get eyes in sky for Jerusalem patrols
- Grocer’s holiday ad unnerves Brits
- Brits blame web services in soldier’s death
- Abduction in Mexico to spur police, judicial system changes
- Islamic State got up to $45M in ransom payments
- Afghan forces may resume night raids