Entries in Vatican (25)


Chance of American Pope Are Slim to None

JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images(ROME) -- The College of Cardinals begins it conclave on Tuesday at the Vatican to select the next pope and there's been no shortage of rumors as to who might be selected as the new leader of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church.

Some of the buzz is that an American cardinal might be in the running for pontiff but as Monsignor Christopher Nalty explains, "There's probably 20 or 25 of those cardinals who we can see walking out on that piazza, walk out on that loggia in a couple of days and whichever one is, will be our pope."

A former official of the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy, Nalty says people shouldn't read too much into New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan's frequent appearances on TV.

According to Nalty, "The Americans have let their personalities shine and I think that's getting people to talk about them.  Whether that's getting the other cardinals to talk about them is another thing."

The monsignor, in fact, would be stunned if Dolan or another American becomes the successor to Benedict XVI, who resigned on Feb. 28, adding, "My jaw would drop so much I'd need reconstructive surgery after it hit the cobble stones on the piazza."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Vatican Begins Papal Conclave with Mass, First Vote

GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images(VATICAN CITY) -- A new pope could be elected Tuesday as the 115 Roman Catholic cardinals enter the Sistine Chapel for the conclave that will select the next pontiff.

The first vote is set to take place Tuesday evening in Rome (afternoon ET), although it is unlikely that on the first ballot any candidate earns the two-thirds majority needed for election.  If no pope is elected on Tuesday evening's vote, the 115 cardinal electors will resume the conclave on Wednesday.

On Tuesday morning, the cardinals celebrated a mass in a packed St. Peter's Basilica with a homily from Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the college of cardinals.

"We implore the Lord that through the pastoral solicitude of the cardinal fathers, He may soon grant another good shepherd to his holy church," Sodano said.

When Sodano praised the retired Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as a "beloved and venerable" pontiff, cardinals responded with a lengthy applause.

In recent days, cardinals have expressed optimism that the conclave will be a quick one and a new leader of the church's 1.2 billion followers will be swiftly selected.  The start of Holy Week on March 24 gives the conclave an added sense of urgency.

"In a few days we will have a new holy father," Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn of Austria said on Sunday.

When the cardinal electors -- only cardinals under 80 can vote -- enter the conclave, they will be shut off from the outside world: no television, Internet or newspapers.  Electronic jamming devices have been installed in the chapel.

The cardinal electors Tuesday morning moved into Santa Marta, the house where they will reside during the conclave.  Later in the day, they will gather in the Pauline Chapel before proceeding into the Sistine Chapel, where the doors will then be locked.

After each session of voting, the ballots are burned and smoke is emitted from the chapel's chimney, with black smoke signaling that no candidate has been elected in the preceding rounds of votes and white smoke indicating a new pope has been picked.

The first smoke can be seen between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Cardinals Prepare to Pick a New Pope

Franco Origlia/Getty Images(ROME) -- What would God do?  That’s the question many Roman Catholic Cardinals meeting in Rome are asking themselves as they prepare to select the next Pope.

The Sistine Chapel at the Vatican is now closed to the public as the College of Cardinals prepares to gather in the sanctuary on Tuesday to pick the next pontiff.

The 115 cardinals themselves are sworn to secrecy, but retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who participated in the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI, says it's a very emotional and solemn ritual.

“You're voting for the man you think God would want," McCarrick says.

The cardinal adds, “It's a very emotional time and a very, very deep moment when you try to read the mind of God.”

When white smoke does billow out of the Sistine Chapel's chimney, the centuries-old signal that a new pope has been chosen, thousands of people will get a text message and an email.

It's not a service from the Holy See, but rather Pope Alarm, a new website that promises “when the smoke goes up, you'll know what's going down.”

Once the new pope is introduced to the world on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, thousands more will then check their Fantasy Conclave picks to see how they fared.

"I love the fact contemporary media is giving people access to new ways to the conclave," says Matthew Bunson, general editor of the Catholic Almanac.  “It demonstrates that there is intense interest all over the world.”

When the cardinal electors enter the Sistine Chapel on Tuesday, they'll have the prayers and support of people who have registered to “adopt a cardinal.”

After someone enters their email address on the Adopt a Cardinal website, they're assigned one of the 115 cardinal electors to keep in their prayers.  The cardinals know about the site, and they seem to approve.

“To all participating in 'Adopt a Cardinal' project: 'Thank you very much for 'adopting' us. Your prayers are helping us discern God's will,” Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban, South Africa, tweeted.

Once the conclave begins, the cardinals will live detached from the outside world until a new pope is chosen.

Cellphone-jamming devices are installed in the Sistine Chapel in order to ensure the utmost secrecy, and for the approximately nine cardinals who are active on Twitter, that means taking a social media vacation.

The cardinal electors will vote four times per day -- twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon -- until they reach a two-thirds majority.

If the next pope were chosen by an online popularity contest, three social-media-savvy cardinals would have to duke it out for the top spot.

The Twitter and Facebook accounts of Cardinals Timothy Dolan of New York, Luis Tagle of Manila and Gianfranco Ravasi of Italy have accounted for more than 85 percent of cardinals' social media use, according to Decisyon, an Italian start-up specializing in social media analysis.

While Bunson called being social media-savvy “a plus” for the contenders, he said it's essential the new pope embraces Twitter, as Benedict XVI did, and other forms of digital media.

“Certainly popes have embraced the use of radio, film, and television and then the Internet,” he said.  “Social media is the next area of communication that has to be used and understood if the church is going to evangelize and get the gospel out there.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Vatican Says Conclave Will Start Tuesday

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(ROME) -- The Vatican has announced that the conclave to elect the next pope will begin on Tuesday.

Catholic Cardinals from across the globe now gathered at the Vatican were waiting for the arrival of Vietnam's cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham, who arrived on Thursday, before a date could be set for the election.

When all 115 of the voting cardinals were finally together, they began to gather for the meetings known as general congregations.  During these meetings they discuss the problems facing the church, while geting to know each other.

On Thursday, U.S. Cardinal Roger Mahony caused a wave of anticipation when he tweeted that the discussions were "reaching a conclusion."

"Days of General Congregations reaching a conclusion. Setting of date for Conclave nearing. Mood of excitement prevails among Cardinals," he tweeted.

The setting of the date functions as a deadline for pre-conclave discussions.

Once the conclave begins, the cardinals will vote four times a day -- twice in the morning, and twice in the afternoon.  All of these votes are made during silent prayer within the Sistine Chapel.

Many of the over one billion Catholics across the world are waiting to see who will be selected as the next pontiff.  One hint even arrived on Friday that the next pope could be an American.

An article in an Italian magazine by a respected religion writer says that Cardinal Dolan, the current Archbishop of New York, is being strongly considered as a viable candidate to be the next pope.

The article states that he is considered a great communicator, which is an essential quality in the very public role that the pope will play.

Cardinal O'Malley of Boston is also mentioned in the same article as a viable candidate.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Papal Porta-Potties in the Sistine Chapel?

Franco Origlia/Getty Images(VATICAN CITY) -- Among the more intriguing traditions of a papal election is the little stove installed in the Sistine Chapel to burn the ballots and send out the smoke signals about the results.

But one mystery never really discussed is how 115 voting cardinals locked in a room deal with, ahem, waste of a more mundane nature.

Papal porta-potties, it turns out.

“They are installing chemical toilets inside the Sistine Chapel,” Antonio Paulucci, the director of the Vatican Museums told Italy’s Il Messagero newspaper Wednesday.

There are public bathrooms nearby -- just one floor down -- but the cardinals won’t be able to venture out of the chapel to use them.

The Sistine Chapel is under undergoing a transformation before the vote.

The Raphael Rooms will remain open, but the Borgia Apartments will be closed as will Pope Paul VI’s collection of contemporary church art.

The museum has also closed the doors of the Sistine Chapel to all tourists.

The Sistine Chapel is the museum’s biggest attraction, with 5 million visitors a year. Now even pre-paid private tour groups are cancelled or postponed until after the new pope emerges.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Pope Pushes Up Date for Conclave to Choose His Successor

L'Osservatore Romano Vatican-Pool/Getty Images(VATICAN CITY) -- With his resignation set for Thursday, Pope Benedict XVI published a declaration on Monday to allow the College of Cardinals to begin choosing his successor almost immediately after he steps down.

The conclave could start in early March, sidestepping an edict by John Paul II that the election of a new pope should not take place until 15 days after the pontiff has died.

However, given the unusual circumstances leading to this conclave -- Benedict is the first pope to abdicate in nearly 600 years -- it was decided that the cardinals shouldn’t have to wait longer than necessary to find the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

Cardinals are already arriving at the Vatican in Rome.  All told, 117 cardinals under the age of 80 will take part in the conclave.

Benedict, 85, announced two weeks ago he was resigning due to his age and health concerns.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Vatican Disputing Scandal Rumors Amid Pope's Resignation

Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images(VATICAN CITY) -- As Pope Benedict XVI prepares to step down from the papacy this Thursday, the Vatican has also been forced to deal with reports in the Italian media about an alleged scandal involving gay clergy being blackmailed.

During an impromptu briefing on Saturday, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi again responded to the worldwide distribution of “unverified, unverifiable, or even false” news stories that surfaced last week.

Lombardi declined to say which specific reports the Vatican objects to although he appeared to be referring to the report, first carried by Italy’s Panorama and La Repubblica, claiming Benedict is resigning rather than facing the fallout of allegations regarding gay priests.

Foreign news outlets picked up the story on Saturday, attributing only the Italian press accounts, further distressing the Vatican.

The spokesman accused the news media of meddling in the papal election, adding that in the past, it was the state that tried to pressure the cardinals' decision regarding the election of a pope.

"Now there is an attempt to do this through public opinion," according to Lombardi.

In spite of all the controversy, Pope Benedict led his final Angelus blessing on Sunday before tens of thousands in Saint Peter's Square as cardinals from around the world converge on the Vatican preparing to choose his successor to lead the world's Rome Catholic Church.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Papal Conclave 2013 Not Politics as Usual

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- More than 100,000 pilgrims came to St. Peter's Square Sunday to attend Pope Benedict XVI's last Sunday prayer and blessing. The crowd interrupted the pope several times with applause, but Benedict was business as usual.

Apparently he is not big on goodbyes.

This was the last time the world will see him in the window for his Sunday noon appointment with the faithful.

This time next week he'll be gone from the Vatican. The campaign to choose the new pope will be in full swing.

Choosing a New Pope

It's an electoral process like no other -- an absolute monarch is elected in secret by princes who are appointed.

It all takes place behind locked doors in the Sistine Chapel, the ultimate smoke-filled room. The results are transmitted by smoke signal and quickly confirmed in Latin.

Palace intrigue is part of the history but this year the church is struggling with a different sort of challenge. This time the media is accused of meddling.

Pope Benedict's resignation - the first in modern history - makes the papacy seem almost presidential. And the reporters, gathered to witness this historic transition, are covering it almost as a New Hampshire primary.

We introduce our viewers and readers to the possible candidates. We look for dark horses and examine whatever skeletons may be lurking in the closet. We also pay careful attention to the locals, the Italians who know the story best.

Conclave Politics Set Against Italy's Political Backdrop

That said, Italy has a political and media culture very different from the Granite State. Politics here can be opera, at times even opera buffa.

By sheer coincidence, Italy's former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is up for election again this weekend.

This is the same Berlusconi accused of paying a young Moroccan dancer for sex at his so-called Bunga Bunga parties. He is a billionaire media mogul, with a spray tan and a brash manner.

If he loses Sunday's election, he'll be back in court next month in his sex-for-hire trial. If he wins, he'll enjoy immunity as an elected official.

Against that backdrop, the Italian media is portraying the Vatican political culture as being equally depraved, drenched in ambition, wine and pheromones.

The Rome papers are full of reports that sound like the plot of a Dan Brown novel, starting with a shadowy Vatican dossier supposedly detailing a gay sex and blackmail scandal involving the curia.

Rather unfairly for the church, a dossier does actually exist, the findings of an internal investigation the pope commissioned into the Vatileaks affair.

In that scandal, the pope’s butler leaked documents from the papal chambers and ended up as the first prisoner in years to wind up in the Vatican dungeons. (He has since been convicted and pardoned, provided with an apartment and a job with the church.)

So the document exists. But only the pope and his closest circle know what's in it.

Church officials cannot flatly deny the details being reported about its contents, because they have no idea. All they can say is the stories in the Italian press are "unverified, unverifiable, and even completely false."

At the same time, the church is dealing with a scandal that is verified, verifiable, and all too disturbingly true: the sex abuse scandal, in which several of the cardinals who will be voting on the new pope are implicated themselves, either as abusers or as managers who shielded pedophile priests from the law and covered up for their crimes.

Both stories are upstaging what is supposed to be a deeply spiritual process of choosing the next successor to St. Peter.

But, largely because of the sex abuse scandal, the church has lost some of that air of infallibility it could rely on in years past.

One more point worth making: the blind items in the Italian papers may well be planted by cardinals hoping to spin the process for or against a particular candidate.

The faithful, confronted for a decade now with the failures of priests and prelates, have the confidence to challenge church authority. How the church responds will be a test of grace under fire.

By stepping down, Pope Benedict may have opened the doors to all this. By suddenly announcing his resignation, he has upended tradition, making the papacy presidential.

One thing it's decidedly not is politics as usual.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Two African Cardinals in the Running to Be Pope

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(ROME) -- After Pope Benedict XVI became the first pope in hundreds of years to voluntarily resign, the Roman Catholic Church could be in for another first in recent history -- an African pope.

Two African cardinals are rumored to be among the top candidates to succeed Benedict, and many Vatican watchers believe the election of a non-European pope is a very real possibility at a time when the majority of the church’s growth is in the developing world.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, 64, of Ghana, is considered to be near the top of the short list of likely successors.

After serving for more than 30 years as an ordained priest, Turkson was made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 2003.  He currently serves as president of the Vatican’s Council for Justice and Peace.  Colleagues describe him as a “people person” with excellent communication skills.  He is considered a conservative who is unlikely to steer the church in a new direction on issues such as contraception, abortion and gay rights.

Turkson outlined for ABC News on Monday the challenge facing Benedict’s successor.

“The new pope has to be very sensitive to the present condition of humanity and yet recognize the task of having to still keep the Gospel in its pure form.  That’s a big challenge that we all pray for,” he said.

“I think what we should be looking for, probably what we should be doing rather is recognizing the nature of the church… pray God will provide us with the leadership that can confidently lead the humanity in the church in the year ahead.  The challenges are not going to cease.  They’re going to be increasing and we need somebody with God’s guidance to get us through all this,” Turkson said.

Cardinal Francis Arinze, 80, of Nigeria is again being mentioned as a possible pope, as he was in 2005 when Benedict was elected.  

Arinze served as a priest for 27 years and became one of the world’s youngest bishops before Pope John Paul II elevated him to cardinal in 1985.  He was appointed to lead the Vatican’s Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and colleagues compliment his ability to cooperate with people of other faiths.  Arinze is also considered a conservative.

If the conclave of the College of Cardinals were to choose either Turkson or Arinze, it would be the first selection of an African pope in more than 1,500 years.  Scholars say in the first five centuries of the church there were three popes from North Africa.  But the selection of Turkson or Arinze would be the first pope from sub-Saharan Africa and the first-ever black pope.

Vatican watchers also believe it is possible a Latin American pope could be selected.  The cardinals considered as leading candidates from Latin America are said to be Leonardo Sandri from Argentina, Oscar Maradiaga from Honduras, Odilo Scherer from Brazil, and Joao Braz de Aviz from Brazil.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Pope Benedict XVI to Resign on Feb. 28

Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images(VATICAN CITY) -- Pope Benedict XVI's unprecedented announcement Monday that he will resign Feb. 28 brings to a close one of the shortest papacies in history, for which the pontiff will leave a legacy as a leader with views in line with church tradition, but also as one who worked during a controversial reign to advance religious links cross the globe.

The pope's decision, which he announced in Latin on Monday during a meeting of Vatican cardinals, makes him the first pontiff to resign in nearly 600 years. It was perhaps the most shocking moment of his nearly eight years as leader of the world's roughly one billion Catholics, years in which he worked on religious outreach.

Such efforts resulted recently in a new Twitter account, which the Vatican launched in late-2012. But true to his traditional worldview, he cautioned the world's Catholics at his Christmas 2012 Mass about the risk of technology's pushing God out of their lives.

RELATED: Pope Benedict XVI Resigns: The Statement

Benedict XVI was the oldest pope to be elected at age 78 on April 19, 2005. He was the first German pope since the 11th century and his reign will rank as one of the shortest in history at seven years, 10 months and three days.

INTERACTIVE: Key Dates in the Life of Pope Benedict XVI

The last pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415.

Vatican officials said they've noticed that he has been getting weaker, while Benedict said he is aware of the significance of his decision and made it freely.

A conclave to elect a new pope will take place before the end of March.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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