Benedict’s last audience

Reporter Jessica Langdon of The Leaven, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, had an opportunity to talk to archdiocesan seminarians now in Rome.

Here is what Seminarian Luke Doyle (center, with Matt Rensch from the Diocese of Burlington, VT, left; and Agustin Martinez, right), who is attending the Pontifical North American College, had to say.

• “ I was able to attend the Holy Father’s last Angelus and his final public audience. I was also able to wave to him from the roof of the North American College as he flew overhead at the beginning of his flight to Castle Gandalfo.”

• “Tickets are normally required to attend a papal event, and the day before I worked alongside the Alma Sisters of Mercy who staff the U.S. Office for Visitors to the Vatican, passing out thousands of tickets for Pope Benedict’s final audience. While tickets are required to be in the “front” of the crowd (front being a relative term), the event was not an exclusive ticketed event. The sisters estimated 250,000 attended Pope Benedict’s final audience.”

• “The Pope seemed very much at peace. For as monumental as his decision is in the life of the Church, he seemed to be very much at peace with it, confidently knowing that he is following the desires of the Lord. He certainly has slowed down in his physical ability, but it was very apparent to me that he has not slowed down in the slightest in his intellectual abilities and in his zeal for the Lord and His Church.”

• “Perhaps this is the greatest testament to the universality of the Church! Pope Benedict delivered his address in Italian, and I was able to catch the gist of what he was saying. My Italian is not great, but I was able to understand his main points. Then, the chief pastor of the universal church spoke directly to pilgrims in 11 different languages, including German, Italian, French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Romanian and Arabic! This is a great example of how seriously Pope Benedict took his responsibilities as universal shepherd of the Church. He spoke eight languages fluently at the time he was elected to the papacy, and since learned another three. He began studying Arabic at the age of 83, so he could be able to speak directly to many peoples under his spiritual care.”

• “The message I will most take away from Pope Benedict’s final audience came when he stated this:

‘One can touch what the Church is — not an organization, not an association for religious or humanitarian purposes, but s living body, a community of brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ, who unites us all. To experience the Church in this way and almost be able to touch with one’s hands the power of His truth and His love, is a source of joy, in a time in which many speak of its decline . . . Dear Friends! God guides His Church, maintains her always, and especially in difficult times. Let us never lose this vision of faith, which is the only true vision of the way of the Church and the world. In our heart, in the heart of each of you, let there be always the joyous certainty that the Lord is near, that He does not abandon us, that He is near to us and that He surrounds us with His love.’Image


Conclave begins Tuesday, March 12

Vatican press spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., announced that the conclave will begin on Tuesday, March 12.

The first votes will be cast inside the Sistine Chapel in the afternoon, reported Francis X. Rocca, Catholic News Service.

The College of Cardinals decided on this date after the arrival of the last eligible voting cardinal. He is Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Man of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon).

Here’s how long past conclaves have lasted:

• Pope Benedict XVI: From the evening of April 18 to the afternoon of April 19, 2005, lasting less than a day and a half, three ballots.

• Pope John Paul II: From Oct. 14 to 16, 1978, two days, eight ballots.

• Pope John Paul I: From Aug. 25 to 26, 1978, two days, four ballots.

• Pope Paul VI: From June 19 to 21, 1963, three days, six ballots.

• Pope John XXIII: from Oct. 25 to 28, 1958, four days, 11 ballots.

• Pope Pius XII: From March 1 to 2, 1939, two days, three ballots.

• Pope Pius XI: From Feb. 2 to 6, 1922, five days, 14 ballots.

• Pope Benedict XV: From Aug. 31 to Sept. 3, 1914, four days, 10 ballots.

• Pope Pius X: From July 31 to Aug. 4, 1903, four days, seven ballots.

Papal movie picks


Papal movie picks

If you get tired of listening to the talking heads on television during the conclave, you can always pop a bowl of popcorn and watch a good movie about the pope. Here’s my list, but I warn you: Have a box of tissue paper ready, because some will make you cry.

Pope Julius II
• “The Agony and the Ecstasy”
Pope: Rex Harrison as Pope Julius II
Notes: An artistic telling of the stormy relationship between Michelangelo, played by Charlton Heston, and Pope Julius II, played by Rex Harrison. Their dynamic relationship led to the creation of such masterpieces as the frescos of the Sistine Chapel, where the cardinals will soon meet in conclave to vote for the successor of Pope Benedict XVI. Based on the Irving Stone novel of the same title.
Original release: 1965

Pope Pius XII:
•“Pio XII”
Pope: James Cromwell as Pope Pius XII
Notes: Another great film that tells the truth about the heroic actions of Pope Pius XII during WWII.
Video release: 2010

• “A Hand of Peace: Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust”
Pope: Pope Pius XII as himself
Note: This documentary explores the difficult choices that Pope Pius XXII faced during the turbulent years of WWII. It addresses in a straightforward manner the question of the pope’s actions regarding the Holocaust, refuting with documentary evidence allegations leveled by his critics.
Video Release: 2009

Pope John XXIII:
• “John XXIII”
Pope: Edward Asner as Pope John XXIII
Note: Ed Asner is a native of Kansas City, Kan.

• “The Good Pope: Pope John XXIII”
Pope: Bob Hoskins as Pope John XXIII
Notes: The story of the young Angelo Roncalli, from humble beginnings to the throne of St. Peter.
Release: Italian television broadcast 2003.

Pope Paul VI:
• “Paul VI: The Pope in the Tempest”
Pope: Fabrizio Gifuni as Pope Paul VI
Notes: In Italian with subtitles.

Pope John Paul I
• “The Smile of God”
Notes: His papacy lasted only 33 days. This nicely done movie gives us a chance to appreciate this good man and wonder about the mystery of the short reign of the patriarch of Venice. So far I’ve only found it on YouTube. Italian with subtitles.
Release date: Unknown

Pope John Paul II
“The Last Days of Pope John Paul II”
Pope: Pope John Paul II as himself
Notes: A CNN documentary about the final days of the late pontiff.
Original broadcast: April 1, 2006; video release 2006

“Karol: A Man Who Became Pope”
Pope: Piotr Adamczyk as the young Father Karol Wojtyla
Notes: A multinational TV miniseries about the future pope’s early years. The success led to a sequel, “Karol: The Pope, The Man,” produced in 2006 that picked up the story and took it to his life as pope.
Original release: 2005

“Pope John Paul II”
Pope: Albert Finney as Pope John Paul II
Notes: This is an American biopic TV movie about Pope John Paul II’s life, from his activist youth to installation as pope. Communist Yugoslav authorities confiscated some of the original footage, which had to be reshot in Italy and Austria.
Original release: 1984

“John Paul II”
Pope: John Voight as Pope John Paul II
Notes: A well-done story of the late pontiff from his childhood to the later days of his papacy.
Video release: 2006

“Testimony: The Untold Story of Pope John Paul II”
Pope: Pope John Paul II as himself
Notes: A documentary based on the book “My Friend Karol,” by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz. Now revealed that there were two assassination attempts; he liked to wear a disguise and sneak out of the Vatican to mix with people; he performed an exorcism.
Video Release: 2009

“Witness to Hope: The Life of John Paul II”
Pope: Pope John Paul II as himself
Notes: Documentary based on the George Weigel book of the same title, 117 minutes.
Video release: 2002

Pope fiction
• “Saving Grace”
Pope: Tom Conti as Pope Leo XVI
A frustrated pope who feels cut off from the faithful is accidentally locked out of the Vatican without money, identification and in non-clerical clothes. He finds his way to an impoverished village and regains his vocation as he revitalizes the people’s lives. A comedy with serious themes.
Original release: 1985

• “The Shoes of the Fisherman”
Pope: Anthony Quinn as Pope Kiril I.
Notes: Set in the late 1980s, Soviet political prisoner Archbishop Kiril Lakota is set free and is elected pontiff. It seems that only he can find a way to bring about reconciliation to prevent World War III.
Original release: 1968

Pope Madness Vatican Edition


Pope Madness Vatican Edition

Don’t forget to go to the Religious News Service (RNS) to participate in their “Sweet Sistine” conclave brackets. For our international readers, this is a takeoff of the annual college basketball “March Madness” here in the States, only Catholic. Grace builds on nature, so let’s fill out our brackets and pray that the cardinals are moved by the Holy Spirit to choose a worthy successor to Pope Benedict XVI.


Sweet Sistine brackets

Usually we draw out brackets for college basketball in March, but for this upcoming conclave the Religious News Service offers this Sweet Sistine Update: Round of Elite Eight Eminences.

Go there now and fill out your bracket. Voting will close March 6 at 9 p.m. Eastern Time in the United States.

Random papal facts from all over

• There have been 265 popes.

• Last time we had a married pope: Pope Adrian II, from 867 to 872.  He, his wife and daughter lived in the Lateran Palace.

• A number of popes have been widowers. The last was Pope Clement IV, 1265 to 1268.

• The word “pope” comes from the Latin “papa” and the Greek “pappas,” or “daddy.”

• Early popes were chosen by senior clerics in and near Rome. The  task of electing pope was restricted to cardinals in 1059. Sometimes, the earlier popes were chosen by acclamation.

• Last officially recognized papal martyr: Martin I, died 654 in exile in Crimea.

• The last conclave not in Rome was held in Venice in 1800.

• Conclaves now last days, but some have gone on for years.

• The ballots and other notes and materials are burnt after each round of voting. If there is a winner, the ballots are burned alone, producing white smoke. If there is no winner, the ballots are burned with something to produce black smoke. In the past, wet straw was burned to produce black smoke. It didn’t always work, so now they add chemicals. And that also doesn’t always work, so they ring bells. The ballots have been burned since 1417.

• When a cardinal has been elected, the dean of the College of Cardinals asks two questions. The first is, “Do you freely accept your election?” The new pope’s reign begins immediately upon his saying, “accepto.”  Then, the dean asks, “By what name shall you be called?”

• The proclamation of a new pope from a balcony over St. Peter’s Square is, “Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum” Habemus Papam! (Latin for: I announce to you a great joy! We have a pope!)

• Sometimes clerics don’t want to be pope. St. Philip Benizi in 1271 ran away from the conclave and hid. There have been rumors of cardinals declining the vote (St. Charles Borromeo in the 16th century, and Cardinal Robert Bellarmine in the 17th century), but no one can say for sure.  Refusals are supposed to be kept secret.

• The longest interregnum (time between popes) was from November 1268 to September 1271 (two years and nine months) and resulted in the election of Pope Gregory X. It took place in the town of Viterbo, near Rome.

• The youngest person elected pope was Pope John XII, 18, in 955. The oldest (since 1400) was Pope Clement X, at 79 years and nine months, on April 29, 1670.

•Pope Leo X, at age 37, was a deacon at the time of his election on March 9, 1513, and the last non-priest to become pope.

• Some popes have been elected by as few as a dozen or so cardinals. Pope Sixtus V limited the maximum number of cardinals to 70 in 1587. Other popes increased the number; Pope Paul VI put a limit of age 80 on the right to participate in a conclave.

• Canon law says that the maximum number of voting cardinals can be 120, although only 115 will participate in the upcoming conclave. Currently, there are 210 — including Benedict XVI, now that he has resigned.

• Shortest papacy: Urban VII, 12 days, in 1590. Longest papacy: Pope Pius IX, from June 16, 1846, to Feb. 7, 1878 — 31 years.