Video: The start of sede vacante and the world’s most-watched job search

posted at 8:41 am on March 1, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

It’s the most-watched job search this year, at least. Last year, it would have been the American presidential election, in which the incumbent hadn’t decided to retire, and voters ended up giving him another four years. The cardinals of the Catholic Church don’t have that option, and now that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has retired to Castel Gandolfo for a few months, the rest of the leadership can proceed on selecting his successor. Instead of setting a date immediately for the conclave that will choose the next pontiff, though, the cardinals have decided to wait until Monday to address that question — even though most of them are already in Rome:

With the 8 p.m. Thursday end of Benedict’s papacy, every department head in the Vatican lost his job — except for those whose offices are crucial for the smooth running of the transition period itself.

Cardinals on Monday will begin formal meetings to set the date for the conclave and discuss problems facing the church; major topics of discussion are expected to be the report Benedict commissioned into the leaks of sensitive Vatican documents and the dysfunction currently reigning in the Vatican bureaucracy.

The date for the conclave of cardinals to begin their deliberations has not yet been set, although one of Pope Benedict XVI’s final acts before resigning his office was to amend the rules governing the election of a successor, allowing the cardinals to meet earlier than the usual 15-day transition between pontificates.

Speculation at the Vatican pegged the start date of the conclave as March 11th, and yesterday appeared to bring at least some confirmation that the cardinals may be reaching a consensus on that point:

On Thursday, soon after Benedict left the Vatican on his final day as pope, Monsignor Carlo Maria Celli, a papal communications officer, hinted that the date could be March 11. That could not be immediately confirmed.

The date of the conclave’s start is important because Holy Week begins March 24, with Easter Sunday March 31. In order to have a new pope in place for the church’s most solemn liturgical period, he would need to be installed by Sunday, March 17.

The start date matters less than it did in ages past, when it took months or even years for the cardinals to make up their mind and grant someone the two-thirds-plus-one vote that settles pontifical elections.  The last few conclaves made their minds up relatively quickly once they began meeting.  The last conclave that took more than five days for voting was in 1830-31, which took almost two months after the normal sede vacante period had passed.  The conclave that elected Benedict XVI took only two days; the previous conclave that elected John Paul II took three.  The conclave will very likely conclude well before the 17th with a March 11th start date.

CNN’s report today focuses on the “politicking” that will take place:

The term “politicking” is not an artful term in this case, given its connotations.  Most of these cardinals will not know each other very well, and will have to acquaint themselves with their colleagues.  The focus will be on the needs of the office rather than individual candidates, so it’s not the kind of “election” with which most people would be familiar, either. There is a saying that the cardinal who goes to a conclave to become Pope leaves a cardinal, as personal ambition is not exactly a winning quality for elections.  The cardinals are more likely to focus on the needs for personal and robust evangelization and a fresh perspective on organizational issues, and humility will be a key quality for consideration.  For both reasons, cardinals might be tempted to look outside of Europe.

As I announced on the Hugh Hewitt show last night, I will be traveling to Rome to cover this conclave for Hot Air.  I have received credentials from the Vatican and will have access to the press center and media events, and I’m beginning to make contacts for interesting stories and on-camera interviews.  I’ll also cast a closer look on Eurozone stories, perhaps especially the impact of the Italian elections on the European debt crisis.  I may be there for as long as two weeks, depending on the conclave’s length and the events surrounding it.  It’s a once-a-generation event in most cases, and it’s a big story in both the secular and faith contexts.


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I thought the world was supposed to end this morning because the sequester took effect. Didn’t seem like there was a point in picking a new Pope.

jon1979 on March 1, 2013 at 8:45 AM

How about God guides the cardinals to choose the pope He wants for them. If they are Godly representatives, then this is how it’s supposed to work.

Kissmygrits on March 1, 2013 at 8:47 AM

Have a great trip, Ed!! Looking forward to your reports!!

Khun Joe on March 1, 2013 at 8:49 AM

As I announced on the Hugh Hewitt show last night, I will be traveling to Rome to cover this conclave for Hot Air. I have received credentials from the Vatican and will have access to the press center and media events, and I’m beginning to make contacts for interesting stories and on-camera interviews.

Very cool.

PappyD61 on March 1, 2013 at 8:51 AM

As I announced on the Hugh Hewitt show last night, I will be traveling to Rome to cover this conclave for Hot Air. I have received credentials from the Vatican

Have fun Ed.

rbj on March 1, 2013 at 8:53 AM

Ed on location in Vatican city! Have a great trip.

WisRich on March 1, 2013 at 8:57 AM

Hopefully they pick someone younger and much more militant (for lack of a better word). The church desperately needs a strong leader who will be around for a long time.

Benedict was excellent, but old.

WryTrvllr on March 1, 2013 at 9:00 AM

…the American presidential election, in which the incumbent hadn’t decided to retire, and voters ended up giving him another four years.

Way to start off with a buzz-kill there, Ed ;)

And Ed is a Vatican regular now, so he knows his way around. Looking forward to your reports from the scene. Reminds me of THIS GUY a little.

JetBoy on March 1, 2013 at 9:05 AM

Eat some delicious pizza near the Pantheon for me. :)

Illinidiva on March 1, 2013 at 9:07 AM

I still say Benedict was probably diagnosed with something like dementia. Nowadays dementia can be diagnosed very early on, while you are arguably still in your right mind. The Papacy is all about the good of the Church and the office itself, not the individual within the office. If the individual cannot perform the office, Benedict is making the point it is best he resign.

Sekhmet on March 1, 2013 at 9:12 AM

Congrats Ed. What an experience.

I look forward to reading your reports.

gophergirl on March 1, 2013 at 9:15 AM

I still say Benedict was probably diagnosed with something like dementia. Nowadays dementia can be diagnosed very early on, while you are arguably still in your right mind. The Papacy is all about the good of the Church and the office itself, not the individual within the office. If the individual cannot perform the office, Benedict is making the point it is best he resign.

Sekhmet on March 1, 2013 at 9:12 AM

Anything’s possible. My grandmother had dementia in her last years…it’s a progressive affliction, and you’re well aware that something isn’t “right” before it takes over.

Whatever the reason(s) for his retirement, Benedict said he had a long reflection with God over this, so whatever it is, it will probably remain only with the two of them.

JetBoy on March 1, 2013 at 9:19 AM

Congrats Ed. What an experience.

I look forward to reading your reports.

gophergirl on March 1, 2013 at 9:15 AM

Yep.

BallisticBob on March 1, 2013 at 9:24 AM

Congratulations on covering the conclave in Rome Ed…Like others I look forward to the posts.

workingclass artist on March 1, 2013 at 9:40 AM

I still say Benedict was probably diagnosed with something like dementia. Nowadays dementia can be diagnosed very early on, while you are arguably still in your right mind. The Papacy is all about the good of the Church and the office itself, not the individual within the office. If the individual cannot perform the office, Benedict is making the point it is best he resign.

Sekhmet on March 1, 2013 at 9:12 AM

Be nice if people in this administration had the same intellectual honesty.

WryTrvllr on March 1, 2013 at 9:41 AM

Congrats on getting to go, Ed.

WannabeAnglican on March 1, 2013 at 9:42 AM

It will be interesting to follow the events of this conclave…particularly on Catholic Blogs, which are gaining an influential and positive presence on the internet.

“The man cardinals choose as the next pope must be someone with the requisite energy and mastery of modern communications media to promote a revival of the faith in increasingly secular societies around the world, said Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington.

The cardinal, who will vote in the upcoming papal election, spoke with Catholic News Service hours after arriving in Rome Feb. 25.

“The secularism that is just engulfing our culture,” he said, “will be weighing heavily on the hearts and minds in the conclave.”

“Those people who think they know the Gospel and it doesn’t have any meaning for them, they’re the people we have to find a way to touch, to invite once again to the embrace of Christ,” he said. “That thought, that concern, that issue, is going to be something that we’ll all carry with us into the conclave.”

“Whoever is going to hold the see of Peter, whoever is going to sit in Peter’s chair is going to have to see the issues as Blessed John Paul did, as Benedict did, as the synod did, as I think most of the cardinals do, that is: that we are very, very much like the early church in relation to the world around us,” the cardinal said. “Christianity is no longer a dominant culture, secularism is the dominant force in the world of culture. So the Holy Father is going to have to be a person whose focus will be on that.”

“The task is going to require an enormous amount of physical energy” for travel and communication, which “may be one of the reasons” Pope Benedict chose to resign, said Cardinal Wuerl. “More important than the physical energy is the spiritual energy, but you do need a certain amount of physical energy to carry out the task. So I suspect that the next pope could be someone who would be perhaps younger than Cardinal Ratzinger was when he was elected and became Benedict.”

Pope Benedict was elected in 2005 at the age of 78.

“There’s a very real sense in which you could say that the (pope’s) ministry is becoming now so big, so heavy, so all-encompassing that it might be challenging for an individual,” the cardinal said.

An important challenge for the next pope will thus be “finding a way that the work of Peter can be carried out without the physical demands that currently are a part of it,” he said…”

http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1300836.htm

workingclass artist on March 1, 2013 at 9:48 AM

An important challenge for the next pope will thus be “finding a way that the work of Peter can be carried out without the physical demands that currently are a part of it,” he said…”

http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1300836.htm

workingclass artist on March 1, 2013 at 9:48 AM

I don’t see that last part happening. If anything, St. Peter’s burden is the future.

WryTrvllr on March 1, 2013 at 9:54 AM

I still say Benedict was probably diagnosed with something like dementia. Nowadays dementia can be diagnosed very early on, while you are arguably still in your right mind. The Papacy is all about the good of the Church and the office itself, not the individual within the office. If the individual cannot perform the office, Benedict is making the point it is best he resign.

Sekhmet on March 1, 2013 at 9:12 AM

His biographer who interviewed him 6 weeks before his abdication didn’t notice any signs of dementia.

He did say that Benedict was physically frail…He had lost weight, was blind in one eye making it difficult for him to read text, and was losing his hearing. He also described Benedict’s increasing difficulty in mobility…making it increasingly difficult for him to perform the Mass and that his doctors warned him not to travel abroad.

Pope Benedict XVI Emeritus trusts the conclave to listen to the Holy Spirit as they elect the next pontiff…He has stated he abdicated after lengthy contemplation and prayer and did this for the good of the church.

workingclass artist on March 1, 2013 at 9:58 AM

I don’t see that last part happening. If anything, St. Peter’s burden is the future.

WryTrvllr on March 1, 2013 at 9:54 AM

Sorry I didn’t post the last part of Cardinal Wuerl’s interview at CNS.

“I believe it’s eminently doable, because today with electronic media, with the facility to speak not only to the whole world but to individuals around the world, I think we’re just seeing a whole shift in how this Petrine ministry is going to be exercised,” he said. “It may not have to be by getting on a plane and going somewhere. It may very well be that electronically you can be every bit as present.”

http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1300836.htm

workingclass artist on March 1, 2013 at 10:02 AM

Ed-
I love Italy, I love the Vatican-very beautiful over there. Do you need someone to carry your bags?

Static21 on March 1, 2013 at 10:04 AM

Sorry. I am something of a pessimist.

That’s not the burden I was referring to.

Hope I’m wrong.

WryTrvllr on March 1, 2013 at 10:06 AM

And how would they compete in the electronic marketplace anyway?

Dancing girls who were just confirmed?

WryTrvllr on March 1, 2013 at 10:07 AM

Sorry. I am something of a pessimist.

That’s not the burden I was referring to.

Hope I’m wrong.

WryTrvllr on March 1, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Maybe this will cheer you up?

Found this story at Father Z’s blog…with his commentary. The whole story is at the link.

“Bp. Vasa (D. Santa Rosa) under fire for requiring Catholic school teachers to live according to the Faith…

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat has an interseting story about an initiative in the local Diocese of Santa Rosa where Most Rev. Robert Vasa is bishop.

It occurred to me as I read this that people who make a push for laity to be more involved in leadership roles in the Church should then willing embrace certain obligation that leaders in the Church take on, including swearing that they adhere to the Church’s teachings an legitimate discipline. Why should lay people get a pass? Thus… sign or get out.

Santa Rosa Diocese requires its teachers to reject ‘modern errors’

By MARTIN ESPINOZA
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The Santa Rosa Catholic Diocese is requiring its 200 schoolteachers to sign an agreement affirming that “modern errors” such as contraception, abortion, homosexual marriage and euthanasia are “matters that gravely offend human dignity.” [NEWS FLASH: It is no secret what the Church has always taught about these things.]

The move is an effort by Bishop Robert Vasa to delineate specifically what it means for a Catholic-school teacher — whether Catholic or not — to be a “model of Catholic living” and to adhere to Catholic teaching.

That means means abiding by the Ten Commandments, going to church every Sunday and heeding God’s words in thought, deed and intentions, [Are those unreasonable things to expect from Catholics in leadership and service positions in the Church? ALL Catholics, for that matter?] according to a private church document that is an “addendum” to language in the current teachers’ contract.

In his two years as Santa Rosa’s bishop, Vasa has attempted to bring his strict[Ooooo!] interpretation of church doctrine to a diocese that historically has had a more tolerant approach. [Get that? He is therefore probably "intolerant". And he is "attempting" to do this... but he'll fail. Right?]

But some teachers fear[Ooooo!] the addendum is an invasion[OH NO!] of their private lives and a move toward imposing more rigid Catholic doctrine. [No, that paragraph isn't loaded with attempts to bias you against the bishop. Nah.]…”

http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/02/bp-vasa-d-santa-rosa-under-fire-for-requiring-catholic-school-teachers-to-live-according-to-the-faith/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wdtprs%2FDhFa+%28Fr.+Z%27s+Blog+-+What+Does+The+Prayer+Really+Say%3F%29&utm_content=Google+Reader

workingclass artist on March 1, 2013 at 10:13 AM

Is fluency in Latin still a job requirement? Because if not I’m free.

Blacklake on March 1, 2013 at 10:16 AM

And how would they compete in the electronic marketplace anyway?

Dancing girls who were just confirmed?

WryTrvllr on March 1, 2013 at 10:07 AM

7 Blogs by Traditional Catholic Priests
http://www.stpeterslist.com/7875/the-blogs-of-7-traditional-catholic-priests/

12 Catholic Blogs Worth Your Time 2012
http://www.stpeterslist.com/4740/12-catholic-blogs-worth-your-time/

workingclass artist on March 1, 2013 at 10:18 AM

Have a great trip, Ed!

Bob's Kid on March 1, 2013 at 10:21 AM

But who will cove the Rubio/Christie beat in your absence?!

Don’t forget to try the veal marsala. Bon voyage Ed!

can_con on March 1, 2013 at 10:26 AM

As I announced on the Hugh Hewitt show last night, I will be traveling to Rome to cover this conclave for Hot Air. I have received credentials from the Vatican and will have access to the press center and media events, and I’m beginning to make contacts for interesting stories and on-camera interviews. I may be there for as long as two weeks, depending on the conclave’s length and the events surrounding it. It’s a once-a-generation event in most cases, and it’s a big story in both the secular and faith contexts.

Wow, Ed, what a great opportunity this is for you. I will be looking forward to your reports. Congratulations!

PatriotGal2257 on March 1, 2013 at 10:28 AM

Is fluency in Latin still a job requirement? Because if not I’m free.

Blacklake on March 1, 2013 at 10:16 AM

Probably.

Latin is the official language of the Vatican…Italian is the lingua franca.

More and more Priests are brushing up on their rusty Latin as demand for the Tridentine Mass increases.

“The Code of Canon Law can. 249 requires… it doesn’t suggest… it requires that all seminarians be taught both Latin so that they are very proficient and also any other language useful for their ministry…”

http://wdtprs.com/blog/2011/09/quaeritur-latin-and-languages-in-seminary/

One Asian Cardinal who has retired complained about it, and that didn’t get very far.

workingclass artist on March 1, 2013 at 10:30 AM

workingclass artist on March 1, 2013 at 10:02 AM

IMHO, Cardinal Wuerl could be one of those ones to watch — he’s not on the radar as is Cardinal Dolan or even Cardinal O’Malley — and he is humble but astute and very much a traditionalist.

We met Cardinal Wurel many years ago when he was the bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. My hubby’s uncle was a priest in the diocese, and at his uncle’s funeral Mass, Wuerl gave a beautiful homily. Later at the reception, we got to talk to him, and I told him as much and I was deeply moved by his gentleness and kindness.

Once or twice, I’ve seen his name mentioned as a potential pope in some Catholic blog comments thusly: “Wouldn’t it be great to have a Steelers fan in the Vatican?” LOL

PatriotGal2257 on March 1, 2013 at 10:43 AM

workingclass artist on March 1, 2013 at 10:02 AM

IMHO, Cardinal Wuerl could be one of those ones to watch — he’s not on the radar as is Cardinal Dolan or even Cardinal O’Malley — and he is humble but astute and very much a traditionalist.

We met Cardinal Wurel many years ago when he was the bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. My hubby’s uncle was a priest in the diocese, and at his uncle’s funeral Mass, Wuerl gave a beautiful homily. Later at the reception, we got to talk to him, and I told him as much and I was deeply moved by his gentleness and kindness.

Once or twice, I’ve seen his name mentioned as a potential pope in some Catholic blog comments thusly: “Wouldn’t it be great to have a Steelers fan in the Vatican?” LOL

PatriotGal2257 on March 1, 2013 at 10:43 AM

I agree…

The reforms must continue and perhaps it will take an American with grit to reform the Curia?

workingclass artist on March 1, 2013 at 10:56 AM

Be nice if people in this administration had the same intellectual honesty.

WryTrvllr on March 1, 2013 at 9:41 AM

Don’t be absurd.

(We have the best regime that money can buy.)

//

Solaratov on March 1, 2013 at 11:12 AM

workingclass artist on March 1, 2013 at 10:56 AM

Yes, I agree as well. Not to mention, but I also think that many of the U.S. Cardinals and bishops are now getting a real jolt of the reality that is the Left, as manifested here by Obama and his administration. I think they are starting to realize that they can no longer coast along as they have for decades, dismissing the Left as just a fringe element that has no real influence, but now see how serious they are in their promotion of a pernicious secularism.

PatriotGal2257 on March 1, 2013 at 11:14 AM

I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have providing news from the Vatican than you, Ed. This is such good news.

Mason on March 1, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Safe travels, Cap’n Ed!

cs89 on March 1, 2013 at 11:42 AM

workingclass artist on March 1, 2013 at 10:56 AM

Yes, I agree as well. Not to mention, but I also think that many of the U.S. Cardinals and bishops are now getting a real jolt of the reality that is the Left, as manifested here by Obama and his administration. I think they are starting to realize that they can no longer coast along as they have for decades, dismissing the Left as just a fringe element that has no real influence, but now see how serious they are in their promotion of a pernicious secularism.

PatriotGal2257 on March 1, 2013 at 11:14 AM

I believe they have had in-depth instruction by Pope Benedict who has also strengthened their hand in Canon Law.

The threat is real and they are united…The USCCB are preparing an American Flock.

The thrust of Fascism has come here.

But we have seen many Nero’s in our long history…

workingclass artist on March 1, 2013 at 11:50 AM

workingclass artist on March 1, 2013 at 11:50 AM

Agreed, absolutely.

PatriotGal2257 on March 1, 2013 at 12:44 PM

workingclass artist on March 1, 2013 at 10:18 AM

Meant to thank you for your links. I knew about St. Peter’s List and one or two other Catholic blogs, but I also bookmarked several of their other lists. I am going to have quite a lot of reading to catch up on. :)

PatriotGal2257 on March 1, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Pretty cool, Ed. Good for you for taking this opportunity. I hope it is a spiritually fulfilling endeavor as well as a great opportunity to get behind-the-scenes stories.

nukemhill on March 1, 2013 at 4:45 PM

workingclass artist on March 1, 2013 at 10:13 AM

An acquaintance of mine applied for (and was offered) a job as the religion teacher at the Catholic school she attended growing up.

After she was given the offer, they discovered that she had lost her faith and was an atheist.

They ended up giving the job to another candidate.

She and all of her friends were very upset and decried it as being horrible because it’s not like she was going to spread her atheism to all of them. I, on the other hand, thought it made sense for a religious school to expect their religion teacher to be religious.

Story has a happy ending though as she was the first person they called two years later when they had an opening in the lit department (which was her first choice anyway).

I can’t imagine she’d react well to being expected to actually agree with Catholic policy.

JadeNYU on March 1, 2013 at 8:12 PM

Hopefully they pick someone younger and much more militant (for lack of a better word). The church desperately needs a strong leader who will be around for a long time.

Benedict was excellent, but old.

WryTrvllr on March 1, 2013 at 9:00 AM

.
It would have been difficult pick a better man than Benedict, to follow after John Paul.

That was like Joshua having to take over for Moses.

listens2glenn on March 1, 2013 at 8:18 PM

The reforms must continue and perhaps it will take an American with grit to reform the Curia?

workingclass artist on March 1, 2013 at 10:56 AM

Agreed. I’m praying for a just man, bold as a lion. ;)

pannw on March 1, 2013 at 8:51 PM

I will be traveling to Rome to cover this conclave for Hot Air.

Hooray! – I won’t have to go blog-shopping for the best coverage!

AesopFan on March 1, 2013 at 11:40 PM

workingclass artist on March 1, 2013 at 10:13 AM

An acquaintance of mine applied for (and was offered) a job as the religion teacher at the Catholic school she attended growing up.

After she was given the offer, they discovered that she had lost her faith and was an atheist.

They ended up giving the job to another candidate.

She and all of her friends were very upset and decried it as being horrible because it’s not like she was going to spread her atheism to all of them. I, on the other hand, thought it made sense for a religious school to expect their religion teacher to be religious.

Story has a happy ending though as she was the first person they called two years later when they had an opening in the lit department (which was her first choice anyway).

I can’t imagine she’d react well to being expected to actually agree with Catholic policy.

JadeNYU on March 1, 2013 at 8:12 PM

Before he abdicated, Pope Benedict Emeritus strengthened Canon Law closing some loop holes and allowing Bishops stronger authority over Catholic institutions in their dioceses.

Catholic Charities and other Catholic Institutions will be under closer scrutiny and discipline of the Bishops.

The USCCB has already warned congregations that they will shut down these institutions within two years rather than comply with federal coercion that contradicts Catholic Doctrine.

Catholic Parochial Schools have always hired non-catholics as teachers (except for the required religion courses and confirmation preparation courses) For Catholic teachers it is part of missionary work and they get educational benefits as faculty, many complete Masters and PHD’s at local Catholic Colleges & Universities.

If the faculty don’t support Catholic Teaching…They should find another job.

workingclass artist on March 1, 2013 at 11:48 PM

Hopefully they pick someone younger and much more militant (for lack of a better word). The church desperately needs a strong leader who will be around for a long time.

Benedict was excellent, but old.

WryTrvllr on March 1, 2013 at 9:00 AM

.
It would have been difficult pick a better man than Benedict, to follow after John Paul.

That was like Joshua having to take over for Moses.

listens2glenn on March 1, 2013 at 8:18 PM

Benedict was a very strong Pope.

The mainstream secular media didn’t cover it…But the Catholic Media did.

workingclass artist on March 1, 2013 at 11:52 PM