Monday, November 18, 2013

50 Years Ago at the Council...

NOVEMBER 22, 1963

     Just slightly after noon (Rome time) on Friday, November 22, a press statement from the U.S. Bishops' office -- written by Msgr. James Tucek -- was released:

     The 73rd general congregation of the Second Vatican Council, November 22, will be a day to record not only in the history of  the Council but in the history of the Church.

     The historic event referred to was the near-unanimous approval given by the world's Bishops to the document Sacrosanctum Concilium, which would reform the Sacred Liturgy and authorize Mass in the vernacular.

     That news flash, however, was eclipsed by news from Dallas, Texas -- by an event which would occur that same Friday, during the early evening hours, Rome time.

+ + + + +

     In the late afternoon many of the Bishops had made a visit to the Church of Santa Caecilia in Trastevere;  November 22 is the feast day of the patroness of Church music.  Cecilia's body is buried in the beautiful church built over the ruins of her house.  At 5:00 PM, Cardinal Meyer of Chicago celebrated a Pontifical Mass there -- St. Cecilia's being his "titular" church.

     One group of American Bishops went to an 8:00 PM dinner at the Cavalieri Hilton -- planning to celebrate the day's good news with several of the periti (experts) who had helped compose the new liturgical document.  As they were "toasting", Archbishop John Cody walked into the room, approached the table, and announced solemnly:

     "I have just heard on the radio that President Kennedy has been shot in Dallas."

     They left the Hilton, silently going out into the night.

+ + + + +

     One of the Protestant "observers" at the Council recalled that his group planned to meet one of the American Bishops that evening to discuss the upcoming document on ecumenism:

      Just before we left we heard by television the terrible news that President Kennedy had been shot.  We walked over to the taxi stand and took a cab in silence and prayer, for at that time there was still hope that the shot was not fatal.  When we arrived at the Bishop's room, however, we learned the dreadful truth.  After we shook hands, it was suggested that we say a prayer together, and the Bishop led us in the "De Profundis."  We sat in a stunned position for some time, listening to the latest radio reports in English.

+ + + + +

     Some of the American Bishops began to search for a church that was open, so that they could offer a Requiem.

+  +  +  +  +

     From that Friday night on, crowds began to gather in front of the United States Embassy on the Via Veneto.  Many Italian citizens left flowers at the entrance.  Several of the Bishops from the U.S. gathered there, too.

     Seeing some of the Bishops in tears, an elderly English priest observed:

     For sheer devotion to Our Lord, put into practice in every part of their continent, the American Bishops stand unique.  Europe has nothing to show them in love for the sacraments, sacrifice for Catholic education, generosity toward the foreign missions.  They say little about this ...  Perhaps heroically, their young murdered President's life mirrored their own earnestness.   

     In his voluminous "History of the Council", Guiseppe Alberigo was to write:

     The event of major international importance during the weeks of the second session (of the Council) was the assassination of J. F. Kennedy ... which was as intensely felt at Vatican II as elsewhere. 
+  +  +  +  +

     On Saturday, November 23, Cardinal Cushing of Boston was already in the U.S.  Somewhat a "maverick" among his brother Bishops, Cushing found the sessions of the Council tedious (except for the discussion of his well-beloved "missions") and generally absented himself from the proceedings.

     He had officiated at the marriage of John Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier in 1953 - and he baptized their two children, Caroline and John, Jr.   In August 1963, just three months prior to the assassination, the Cardinal had celebrated a Mass for a third child, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, who died two days after his birth.  When JFK was inaugurated as the 35th President of the United States on January 20, 1961, Cardinal Cushing offered the invocation.  

     Now, Cardinal Cushing made plans to offer the Funeral Mass for the President in Washington, DC. 

+  +  +  +  +

     While two Catholic priests were being admitted into the White House Saturday morning, to kneel in prayer at either side of the mahogany coffin -- Pope Paul VI offered Mass in his private chapel for the repose of the President's soul. 

     Then Paul allowed television cameras into the Apostolic Palace so that his words might be transmitted to the American people:

     We are deeply shocked by the sad and tragic news of the killing of the President of the United States of America, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and the serious wounding of Governor Connally.

     We are profoundly saddened by this crime, by the mourning which inflicts a great and civilized country, by the suffering which strikes Mrs. Kennedy, their children, and their family.

     With all our heart, we deplore what has happened. We express the ardent wish that the death of this great statesman may not damage the cause of the American people, but rather reinforce its moral and civic sentiments and strengthen its feelings of nobility and concord.

     He was the first Catholic President of the United States. We recall our pleasure in receiving his visit and having discerned in him great wisdom and high resolution for the good of humanity.

     Tomorrow, we shall offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that God may grant him eternal rest, that He may console all of those who weep for him in his death, and in order that Christian love shall reign among all mankind.

     In a private telegram to Jacqueline Kennedy, the Pope wrote:

We hasten to send you, beloved daughter ... upon you and your children, the consolation of divine grace, and our affectionate apostolic blessing.

     The Pope also sent a private message to the late President's parents.  Mrs. Rose Kennedy had already attended two early Saturday morning Masses at St. Francis Xavier, the family's parish church in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.  One of the Masses was celebrated at an altar donated by the Kennedys in memory of their eldest son, Joseph, Jr., who was killed as a Navy flier in World War II.

+  +  +  +  +

     The Church of Santa Susanna, on the Via XX Settembre, was packed for the 5:00 PM Mass celebrated by Cardinal Spellman.

     By that time, Washington's Archbishop O'Boyle and auxiliary Bishop Hannan were returning home for Monday's funeral.

+  +  +  +  +

     Of the events on Sunday, November 24, one of the non-Catholic observers at the Council recorded:

     This weekend all thoughts - and this seemed to include those of the whole Italian nation - were upon the death of President Kennedy.

     On Sunday morning, my wife and I went first to a Catholic church - Santa Susanna ... and then to the Methodist church.  How different were the services!  And yet how similar, for in each place the worship was directed to one God who revealed himself in Jesus Christ.

     ... In the Roman church, we participated silently in a silent Mass, being left to our own individual prayers and meditations.  In the Protestant church, we sang, prayed, and listened together to a sermon.  In completeness of fellowship, I am convinced that in the church of the future, both of these experiences must be offered and that no one will be able to count himself a complete Christian who cannot avail himself of the particular values of each.

     Later, Cardinal Ritter of St. Louis issued a statement, thanking all the Council Fathers for their many expressions of condolence and their promises of prayers:

Where charity and mutual consideration are not in possession of the human heart, there can only be hatred, of which this untimely death is one of the fruits.

     At about the same hour, the President's assassin was himself  assassinated.

+  +  +  +  +

     On Monday morning, November 25 - during the usual announcements at the beginning of the Council's day -- the death of President Kennedy was noted by Archbishop Felici.  He informed the Council Fathers that a solemn Requiem was to be offered that evening at 5:00 PM in the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran for the repose of the soul of the late President of the United States.

     All the Council Fathers were invited to be present.

     Then the Bishops began the Conciliar "business of the day" -- approving the decree on social communications,  Inter Mirifica.

     And on the very day when the world's Bishops approved the use of new means of communication to spread the Gospel,  across the world tens of millions of men and women tuned in to the funeral of President Kennedy.

+  +  +  +  +
     It was a Low Mass, at Mrs. Kennedy's request.  The coffin was placed at the front and center of the Cathedral.  As Cardinal Cushing, in his "familiar droning voice", offered the Mass, Luigi Vena sang from the choir loft Gounod's Ave Maria, just as he had done at the Kennedys' wedding ten years prior.

     The New York Times reported:

     The cardinal - a tall and imposing figure in the massive church - said the Mass entirely in the traditional Latin ("Dominus vobiscum. Et cum spiritu tuo.") He moved steadily and without hesitation, sometimes in a sing-song voice that sounded more like a steady drone of sound than enunciated words - through the Introit, the Kyrie Elesion (Lord, have mercy), the consecration, through all the others forms of the Mass familiar to Roman Catholics the world over, to the communion.

     Mrs. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy were the first to receive communion.  Edward Kennedy followed.  Hundreds of others in the church also received communion ... When the celebration of Mass ended, auxiliary Bishop Hannan ascended to the pulpit and spoke for 11 minutes in English.

     The church doors were opened, the cathedral service concluded, and family, prelates and dignitaries made their way to the graveside service at Arlington National Cemetery.

     At the same time, the evening Requiem for John F. Kennedy in Rome's cathedral -- Saint John Lateran -- was coming to an end.

+  +  +  +  +

     It had been less than six months since the death of Pope John XXIII.

     After President Kennedy's death, one American Bishop present at the Council recalled an event "branded in (his) memory":

     What I remember is this -- standing in the square in Florence, admiring Michelangelo's David, when a little Italian gentleman came up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder.  I turned around and he had tears in his eyes.  His only remark was, "We have lost our two Johns."

     The Jewish political philospher Hannah Arendt, a German who had fled to America in the 1930's,  wrote in The New York Review of Books:

     There is a curious and infinitely sad resemblance between the death of the two greatest men we have lost during this year — the one very old, the other in the prime of life.

     Both the late Pope and the late President died much too soon in view of the work they initiated and left unfinished. The whole world changed and darkened when their voices fell silent.

     And yet the world will never be as it was before they spoke and acted in it.

+  +  +  +  +

     On November 25, at the end of a long article detailing the day of the funeral Mass and burial, the journalist Tom Wicker reported:

     At 3:34 PM, the coffin was lowered into the earth.  The short life, the long day, was done forever.  And none of the pomp and pageantry, none of the ceremony and music, none of the words and grief, none of the faces at the curb,  none of the still figures in the limousines, had seemed to say more than the brief prayer on the back of the photograph of the dead president that had been distributed at the Cathedral:

     "O Lord our God - please take care of Your servant - John Fitzgerald Kennedy."

Thursday, October 3, 2013

October 2, 1963 --

Fifty years later:
Were there really "two" Councils?

Pope Paul VI welcomed journalists to the Second Session of Vatican II in early October 1963 ...

and warned them against an "easy" altering, even "falsify(ing)" what was taking place:


(The following, Pope Paul VI to journalists - 2 Oct 1963)

"Welcome to the Vatican, which we are pleased to note, is becoming well-known to a large number of you. For the Pope, audiences follow one after the other. But he cannot hide the very special joy which he feels in spending some time with the journalists and the reporters for radio and television.

And we are happy to express our gratitude to editors of newspapers and directors of radio stations, who have assigned to Rome to cover these council meetings so many reporters in whom we are pleased to recognize both high quality and professional competence.

We have already had occasion to tell you of the esteem we hold for journalists, and how aware we are of the importance they occupy in the world of today, with their tremendous power over public opinion. Theirs is a choice place. And you know that the honor of your profession demands, on your part, objective reporting and constant concern for the truth.

... There could be the temptation to search out certain well-known “fiends”: nationalism, conflicting tendencies, parties, as well as historical and geographical differences, such as between East and West.

If attention is limited to these externals or if it undertakes to emphasize them, then the reality of things is altered, even falsified. For all the bishops are endeavoring to avoid giving any substance to these divisions, in order on the contrary to be guided by the objective divine truth which they profess and by the fraternal charity which animates them.

 Yes, the Church, as she appears before you cannot fail to make you reflect and — herein is its apologetical force — lead you to Him from whom she draws her very life: Christ, the invisible Head of the Church assembled in council."

Nearly fifty years later, on Thursday February 14, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI met for the last time with the clergy of the Diocese of Rome in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican ...

and chatted with them about the Second Vatican Council,  "as I saw it..."

He spoke of a "council of the media", which at the time may have been stronger than "the real Council."

(The following - Pope Benedict XVI to the priests of Rome, 14 Feb 2013)

"For today, given the conditions of my age, I could not prepare a great, real address, as one might expect, but rather I thought of chatting about the Second Vatican Council, as I saw it..."

"We went to the Council not only with joy, but with enthusiasm. The expectation was incredible. We hoped that everything would be renewed, that a new Pentecost really would come, a new era of the Church, because the Church was not robust enough at that time: the Sunday practice was still good, even vocations to the priesthood and religious life were already somewhat fewer, but still sufficient. But nevertheless, there was the feeling that the Church was going on, but getting smaller, that somehow it seemed like a reality of the past and not the bearer of the future. And now, we hoped that this relationship would be renewed, changed, that the Church would once again source of strength for today and tomorrow. "

"Everyone arrived with great expectations; there had never been a Council of this size, but not everyone knew how to make it work. "

"It appeared to many as a struggle for power, and maybe someone did think about power, but basically it was not about power, but the complementarity of the factors and the completeness of the body of the Church with the bishops, the successors the apostles as bearers, and each of them is a pillar of the Church together with this great body”.

"... Yet, there was the Council of the Fathers - the true Council - but there was also the Council of the media. It was almost a Council in and of itself, and the world perceived the Council through them, through the media. So the immediate Council that got thorough to the people, was that of the media, not that of the Fathers. And while the Council of the Fathers evolved within the faith, it was a Council of the faith that sought the intellectus, that sought to understand and try to understand the signs of God at that moment, that tried to meet the challenge of God in this time to find the words for today and tomorrow. So while the whole council - as I said - moved within the faith, as fides quaerens intellectum, the Council of journalists did not, naturally, take place within the world of faith but within the categories of the media of today, that is outside of the faith, with different hermeneutics. It was a hermeneutic of politics. The media saw the Council as a political struggle, a struggle for power between different currents within the Church. It was obvious that the media would take the side of whatever faction best suited their world. There were those who sought a decentralization of the Church, power for the bishops and then, through the Word for the "people of God", the power of the people, the laity. There was this triple issue: the power of the Pope, then transferred to the power of the bishops and then the power of all ... popular sovereignty..."

"And we know that this Council of the media was accessible to all. So, dominant, more efficient, this Council created many calamities, so many problems, so much misery, in reality: seminaries closed, convents closed liturgy trivialized ... and the true Council has struggled to materialize, to be realized: the virtual Council was stronger than the real Council. But the real strength of the Council was present and slowly it has emerged and is becoming the real power which is also true reform, true renewal of the Church."

"It seems to me that 50 years after the Council, we see how this Virtual Council is breaking down, getting lost and the true Council is emerging with all its spiritual strength. And it is our task, in this Year of Faith, starting from this Year of Faith, to work so that the true Council with the power of the Holy Spirit is realized and Church is really renewed. We hope that the Lord will help us. I, retired in prayer, will always be with you, and together we will move ahead with the Lord in certainty. The Lord is victorious."

Thursday, June 13, 2013



Wednesday, June 5, 2013













Thursday, May 30, 2013

June 3, 1963
Fifty Years Later --


I notice in my body the beginnings of some trouble that must be natural for an old man.  I bear it with resignation, even if it is sometimes tiresome and also makes me afraid it will get worse.  It is not pleasant to think too much about this; but once more, I feel prepared for anything.
(Journal of a Soul)

         Pope John knew -- before the Council sessions began in October 1962 -- that he suffered from the stomach cancer that ran in his family. 
         The four-hour ceremony of the Solemn Opening of Vatican II, which included a 37 minute address by the Pope -- Gaudet Mater Ecclesiae -- took its toll on Pope John, exhausting him.  Although he did not attend the Council's daily sessions during the autumn of 1962,  the 81-year old Pontiff followed the Council's deliberations from the papal apartment.  He was well aware of the lack of progress during the First Sessionand that, quite apparently, Vatican II would last longer than one session.  Pope John knew that he would not live to see subsequent sessions.

       On November 27, 1962, the Pope suffered a massive gastric hemorrhage.  By December 8, when he slowly processed into the Basilica to preside at the close of the First Session, the Council Fathers could see for themselves the physical effects of the Pope's sickness.  The word "cancer" was not used publicly; the official line of the Vatican was that the Pope suffered "from a cold."  It was apparent to the assembled 2,500 Bishops and to the people of Rome that Pope John was unlikely to live through the new year 1963.

        He occasionally gained strength from his resolve - a resolve no dount both spiritual as well as physical - part of his strong Bergamese constitution:

         -- During the early months of 1963, he wrote Pacem in Terris, his last encyclical. ("Peace on earth, which all men of every era have most eagerly yearned for, can be firmly established only if the order laid down by God be dutifully observed.")

         -- He began Lent, as papal tradition dictated, at the stational church of Santa Sabina in Rome.  He continued to visit parishes.

         -- He made it through the joyous but lengthy Easter ceremonies of April 14. 

         -- On May 10 and 11, Pope John received the Balzan Peace Prize.  At the end of the award ceremonies,  he appeared almost totally exhausted.  

         Pope John XXIII had less than a month to live.

- - - - - - -

         Loris Capovilla was a 37-year-old priest of of the Patriarchate of Venice when the new Cardinal Roncalli chose him to be his personal secretary.  Capovilla accompanied him to the Conclave in 1958 and stayed by his side throughout the Johannine pontificate.

     In the last days of May, 1963, it fell to Monsignor Capovilla to tell Pope John -- after a series of hemorrhages and subsequent tranfusions -- that the doctors had done all that they could.  It was too late for surgery. "The cancer has, at last, overcome your long resistance,"  Capovilla told him.

        Pope John's response:

      "Help me to die as a Bishop or Pope should..."

     On Thursday, May 30 the Pope suffered a massive hemorrhage, which left him in great pain.  Doctors administered sedatives; John slipped into unconsciousness. 

       By Friday, the 31st, there were signs of peritonitis.

     The Pope's confessor was summoned to the papal bedroom in the Apostolic Palace, as was the Papal Sacristan.  Pope John received the Blessed Sacrament as Viaticum ("food for the journey") and the anointing of the last sacrament, Extreme Unction.  He regained some consciousness.

      On Saturday, June 1, there were gathered into the dying Pope's bedchamber his several doctors; Monsignors Capovilla and Samore; Cardinal Cicognani, the secretary of state; other senior prelates of the Vatican Curia - Cardinals Tisserant, Ottaviani, Copello, Aloisi Masella, Cento and di Jorio; the Pope's valets, and the nuns of the Papal Household who had cooked and cleaned and cared for him.

     Family members -- his surviving brothers and sister -- arrived from the North and also gathered around the bed.

     And in the background was Cardinal Montini of Milan; John had personally summoned him to be present.  Montini was witness to the last days of the man who preceded him as Pope. 

      John managed to say to Monsignor Capovilla (later an archbishop and, at 97 years old, still living today):

     "When all this is over, get some rest and go see your Mother."

 - - - - - - -

      June 2 -- the last full day of Pope John's life -- was Pentecost Sunday.  A Mass was offered in the nearby study; John was fevered and in-and-out of consciousness.  At one point, he was able only to sit up a bit and talk briefly with his family, but then he began to gasp for air.  He fell into a coma. 

     A crucifix was placed in his hands - and in the early evening he mumbled a few words of the Regina Coeli, the Easter prayer he would otherwise have prayed with the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square. 

     On the morning of Monday, June 3, he was heard to whisper two times the very words that St. Peter had addressed to the Risen Christ:
"Lord, you know that I love you."

Throughout the day, his breathing became more shallow, his pulse weakened.  Once again, Mass was offered in the study, this time by the Cardinal-Vicar of Rome.  At the moment Cardinal Traglia spoke the last priestly words of the Mass - "Ite missa est" ("Go, the Mass is ended") - the Pope died.

      John XXIII -- "good Pope John", the "Pope of the Council", Pastor et Nauta, "the gentle Pope", "Father to all" "Shepherd of the modern world", raised to the altar as "Blessed" -- and certainly one of the most influential Pontiffs in centuries ...

      ... had been Pope for only four years,  seven months and  six days.
- - - - - - -

From Pope John's last will and testament:

"Born poor, but of honorable and humble people, I am particularly happy to die poor, having given away, for the benefit of the poor and of the Holy Church that had nurtured me, all that came into my hands, during the years of my priesthood and episcopacy."

(Timeline from
Burkle-Young's "Passing the Keys")

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Prayer for a Pope Who is “Both …”

...both Francis of Assisi and Francis Xavier:
         both reformer and missionary,
         both visionary and evangelizer...

...both Peter and Paul:
         both in the heart of the Church
         and in the court of those yet to hear and believe...

...both urbi et orbi:
         both to the See of Rome and to all the world,
         to both hemispheres - north and south... 

... both Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes:
         the Vicar of Christ, Who is both
         "the light of all nations" 
         Who shares in both "our joys and our hopes",
         "our griefs and our anxieties"...

... both in continuity and in reform:
         both "father and teacher", just as the Church is
         both Mater et Magistra -
         from both Scripture and Tradition
         - the one font of Truth -
         to live both great commands:
         love of God and love of neighbor.

... both priest and prophet,
    both servant and leader,
    at both altar and table, both Priest and Victim,
         both Source and Summit -
         offering sacrifice and sacrament
         for both men and women, both young and old,
         with both saints and sinners
         worshiping in both Spirit and Truth;

         calling for conversion of both heart and mind,
         to cleanse the cup both inside and out,
         both poor in spirit and rich in mercy,
         like the wise man of the Gospel
             who brings forth from the storeroom
             graces from the One
             both ever ancient and ever new...

... with keys for both the kingdom here
         and the kingdom to come,
         both still and still moving,
         in both word and deed,
         in both speaking and listening ...

... for both health and long life...

... for both courage in Jesus
    (whose Company he keeps)
         and consolation from the Mother
               also "Miserando atque eligendo" --
               both "lowly but chosen"...

... both in the burden of the Cross now carried
    and in the hope of the Resurrection to be shared;

... blessings both now and forever.  Amen.

- Monsignor John T. Myler

Wednesday, March 13, 2013



(Part Five of five)

     When Giacomo Cardinal Lercaro appproached and knelt before the new Pope Paul VI at the end of the Conclave of 1963, Pope Paul -- seated on the papal throne -- had special words for Cardinal Lercaro:

"So this is how life goes, Your Eminence.  You should really be the one sitting here."

      Cardinal Lercaro and then-Cardinal Giovanni Montini had been front-runners on the earliest ballots in the 1963 conclave to replace Pope John XXIII.   Reports suggest that, eventually, the Cardinal-electors considered Cardinal Lercaro too "radical" to elect; he was famous for having turned his Cardinal's palace in Bologna into an orphanage. 

      Cardinal Lercaro, who had also received votes in the 1958 Conclave, was among the first members of the post-World War II hierarchy to preach a "Church of the poor" -- an ecclesiology that was to be developed further in Latin America, in some questionable directions -- during the 1970's.  In fact, during his tenure as Archbishop, he had tried to begin dialogue with members of the Italian Communist Party, which was the most popular political party in Bologna.

     Now, fifty years later, a Conclave of Cardinals has selected a Latin American Cardinal, Jorge Mario Bergoglio -- who lives in a humble apartment, cooks his own meals and rides the public bus system in Buenos Aires -- as the new Supreme Pastor of the Catholic Church.

     (Cardinal Lercaro and

Cardinal Bergoglio)

Just as in 1963, the Conclave fifty years later had candidates who might have been considered more cultured, more learned, more photogenic or media-savy than Francis.

And, just as it did in 1963, the 2013 Conclave could have turned to "safer" candidates.  And while the prayerful expectation is that Pope Francis will be a Pope of continuity, he has perhaps a unique opportunity for reform  - a reform no doubt strongly supported by many of his Cardinal electors.

Not since 1963, or even within the last century or more, has the call for reform been so universal.

And there is at least one more historical confluence across five decades: that -- in effect -- Benedict has said to Francis: "You should now be the one sitting" in the Chair of Peter.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


(Part Four of five)

      Five popes at one Council -- the Second Vatican Council -- and now will come a new Pope, not a Churchman dur-ing the Conciliar years.    

     For more than fifty years -- more accurately, since the Conclave of  1958 -- the five Cardinals who have been elected Pope have all been "men of the Council":

1958: Angelo Cardinal Roncalli, in the Conclave of October 25-28, (11 ballots) became Pope John XXIII -- who surprisingly convened Vatican II.

1963: Giovanni Battista Cardinal Montini, in the Conclave of June 19-21 (6 ballots) became Pope Paul VI -- who guided the Council through the final three of its four sessions.

1978: Albino Cardinal Luciani in the Conclave of August 25-26 (4 ballots) became Pope John Paul I.  He had attended the Council as Bishop of Vottorio Veneto. His papacy would last only one month.

1978: Karol Cardinal Wojtyla in the Conclave of October 14-16 (8 ballots) became the first non-Italian Pope in over four centuries.  The Archbishop of Krakow, who had attended all the Council's sessions, took the name John Paul II.

2005: Josef Cardinal Ratzinger in the Conclave of April 18-19 (4 ballots) became Pope Benedict XVI.  He had been a peritus at Vatican II - an expert theologian who accompanied Cardinal Frings of Cologne.

      Now comes the Conclave of 2013 -- and the era of fifty years of Popes who were present at one Council will come to an end .

      Most probably, the Cardinal who will be elected in the next week (beginning March 12) will have been born after 1940.  He will therefore have been ordained a priest after 1965  -- after the close of the the Council.

       Who will he be?

       Fifty-nine (or just a little more than one-half) of the Cardinals in Conclave were born in 1940 or later.  They are:

Italians (12)
Bagnasco, Bertello, Betori, Calcagno, Comastri, Filoni, Piacenza, Ravasi, Scola, Sepe, Vallini, Versaldi

Germans (2)
Marx, Woelki

Spanish (1)
Canizares Llovera

French (all 4)
Barbarin, Ricard, Tauran, Vingt-Trois

Polish (2)
Nycz, Rylko

Other Europeans (7)
Bozanic (Croatia), Duka (Prague), Eijk (Utrecht), Erdo (Budapest), Kock (Switzerland), Puljic (Bosnia), Schonborn (Vienna)

Brazil (2)
Braz de Aviz, Scherer

Mexico (2)
Rivera Carrera, Robles Ortega

Argentina (1)

Other Latin Americans (4)
Cipriani Thorne (Peru), Rodriguez Maradiaga (Honduras), Salazar Gomez (Colombia), Urose Savino (Venezuela)

United States (6)
Burke, DiNardo, Dolan, Harvey, O'Malley, Wuerl

Canada (2)
Collins, Ouellet

Nigeria (1)

Other Africans (6)
Napier (S Africa), Njue (Kenya), Pengo (Tanzania), Sarah (Guinea), Turkson (Ghana), Zubeir Wako (Sudan)

India (3)
Alencherry, Gracias, Thottunkal

Other Asians (3)
Ranjith, Rai, Tagle

Oceania (1)
Pell (Sydney)

       The name of the next Pope -- if he is 70 years old or younger -- is in the list above. 

       Considered in terms of the continents (Europeans 28 ...  Latin Americans 9 ...  North Americans 8 ...Africans 7 ... Asians and Oceania 7) it may appear that he will probably be European. 

       Considered from another angle, however, the Europeans do not dominate (Europeans 28 ... the rest of the world 31).

       Wherever he is from, whoever he is -- from the above list or from those even a bit older --  he will know the Council "second-hand".  He will not have been there -- not present in the aula of St. Peter's Basilica during the years from 1962 to 1965.

       The new Pope will have learned about the Council as history -- from studying Roncalli, Montini, Luciani, Wojtyla and Ratzinger.

       His election will, in a way, be the end of a certain linear continuity ... but it may afford the new Pope an opportunity for dynamic reform.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

 50 YEARS AGO --

(Part Three of Five:  "The Ballots")

     Certainly, Cardinal Montini of Milan was the  "favorite" going into the 1963 conclave -- but his election was by no means a certainty.

     It took six ballots to elect the close collaborator of both Pius XII (Pius had "banished" him from Rome to Milan) and John XXIII (John made him the "first Cardinal" of his papacy and relied on him during the first session of the Council). 

      Although Montini was ahead in the voting from the very first ballot, he barely reached the 54 votes needed.  Cardinal Lercaro had many votes in the early balloting; his "progressive" supporters switched to Montini during the 2nd and 3rd ballots.   

(Photos from top to bottom
Giovanni Cardinal Montini,
Giacomo Cardinal Lercaro, 
Guiseppe Cardinal Siri)

    Cardinal Siri's supporters put forward Cardinal Antoniutti and, later, Cardinal Roberti, in hopes of avoiding a Montini papacy.  As their numbers slipped away, Montini edged upward - finishing with perhaps only 2 or 3 votes more than needed for election.

     Burkle-Young in Passing the Keys describes the moment:

"There was no atmosphere of elation and, surprisingly, not much sense of relief, either.  Montini had reached the throne, but just barely.  More than a fourth of the College remained completely opposed to his reign, and that quarter included a majority of those men on whom the new Pope would have to rely daily in governing the Church."

      There would be continuity -- the Council would continue.  But the accompanying reform would prove very difficult to achieve.

(Next: Continuity and Reform
in the Conclave Fifty years Later.)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

FIFTY YEARS AGO (1963 - 2013):
The Council -- Two Conclaves -- Continuity and Reform

(Part Two of five...)

To continue the Council's reforms ...?

I have returned to the U.S., to my Cathedral parish...

... allowing me to to search out this passage from the book "Passing the Keys", written by my late friend, Francis A. Burkle-Young:

In 1963, the essential question was whether (Vatican II) would be allowed to progress - to what ultimate result no one knew - or whether the new pope would limit the scope and effectiveness of the Council by shutting it down at the earliest opportunity, and then lead the Church back to something that approximated Catholicism as it had been at the death of Pius XII.  Each side saw itself as fighters for the good of the Church.

Undoubtedly, the unfinished business of the reign of John XXIII was whether or not to continue the reform which had been underway at the first session of the Second Vatican Council in the fall of 1962.

After that first session and during preparations for the second session in 1963, Pope John died from stomach cancer.  Following his death, there were three - perhaps four - obvious candidates for the Papacy:

-- Cardinal Montini, who had been close to both John and Pius XII, a curialist and recent Archbishop of Milan. He had embraced the work of the Council.

-- Cardinal Lercaro of Bologna, well-known for having converted his episcopal palace into an orphanage, and who had been a candidate in 1958.  He was certainly among the most progressive of the Council Fathers and the papal electors.

-- Cardinal Siri of Genoa, who was only 57 years old but had been a Cardinal for ten years, considered by some to be far too reactionary.  A strong candidate in four conclaves from 1958 to 1978, his main supporters were most likely curial Cardinals.

-- Cardinal Antoniutti, a well-liked Vatican diplomat who had served in places as varied as Albania, Canada and Spain. He was seen as a moderate conservative and as an alternative to Cardinal Siri. 

Continuity and reform, which would be so labeled five decades later by Pope Benedict XVI, were the dominant issues - or perhaps considered together the single most important issue - at the conclave of 1963.

Next: The ballots of 1963

Saturday, February 23, 2013

FIFTY YEARS AGO (1963 - 2013):
The Council -- Two Conclaves --
Continuity and Reform
(Part One of five...)

I sit at a desk in Vatican City, in the residence where in just a few days, Cardinals from throughout the world will come to bid farewell to Pope Benedict XVI and prepare to be electors in the March conclave to elect a new Pope.

It was fifty years ago, in 1963, that other Cardinals gathered in the Vatican -- but not in the comfort of this Domus Sanctae Marthae -- for the conclave after the death of Pope John XXIII. 
+ + + + +

They were both old men when they had been elected Pope, replacing men who had been “great” Popes for two decades or more…
Once elected, both had brief, but very busy, challenging papacies…
And both left a lot of finished business.
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The Papal conclave in the Sistine Chapel after the death of the 81-year old Pope John XXIII took place in 1963.  The conclave after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI at age 85 will take place exactly half-a-century later, in 2013.  The word “continuity was of prime importance 50 years ago: Would the Council continue?   
And today, no doubt the word continuity” will be for the gathered Cardinals an important matter of discussion – and likewise an important consideration in the choosing – of a new Pope in 2013.

 The pressing question of that time 50 years ago was whether the new Pope would call a halt to the Second Vatican Council -- or continue it. Under Pope Paul VI (Cardinal Giovani Battista Montini), chosen by the Cardinals at the 1963 conclave, plans for the 2nd session of the Vatican Council continued.
     That word continue has become, five decades later, a key term in the Pontificate of Benedict XVI.  On the day the Pope announced his resignation, the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano, replied to the Pope in the name of all the members of the Sacred College:

       "You began your luminous pontificate following in continuity -- that continuity you have spoken to us so much ... In continuity with your 265 predecessors in the chair of Peter."

 " ... That continuity you have spoken to us so much ..."

     There are many more historical similarities between the conclave of 1963 and the upcoming conclave of 2013.
     And, along with continuity, in the last few days the volume has increased in a serious call for reform.
Similarities 1963 and 2013