(VATICAN CITY) It’s a cold, wet, and windy day here at the Vatican, but that hasn’t kept tourists from filling St. Peter’s Square to tour the Basilica or the Vatican Museums. It also didn’t keep me from interviewing Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review, Patheos, and Catholic Voices USA about the election of Pope Francis, the media response, and the signals we’re already getting about this new pontificate. K-Lo proves herself quite the trouper here in this 10-minute interview:
Tomorrow’s weather is supposed to be nicer, with more sunshine than clouds and no rain. Warm dress will be the order of the day, for those on the ground and especially for those of us on the braccio again to cover the inauguration Mass.
Meanwhile, the personal stories of Francis as a boy continue to pop up in the media, all of them humorous and heartwarming. Today’s Washington Post amplifies an Agence France-Presse report that tracked down the nuns who served as then-Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s teachers. Holiness wasn’t exactly innate in the young lad:
The Argentine cardinal memorized his multiplication tables aloud as he skipped steps at the De la Misericordia school, where he celebrated his First Communion at the age of nine, Sister Martha Rabino remembered.
“He was a devil, a little devil, very mischievous, like every boy,” the 71-year-old nun said with a smile.
“Who would have known that he would become pope!”
Rabino wept tears of joy when the 76-year-old Jesuit, who still shares tea with milk with the school’s nuns, was elected to the throne of St. Peter on Wednesday, becoming the first Latin American leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. …
Rabino told AFP that after he became a priest, he liked to ask the nuns what he was like when he was a child. One nun he talked to often was his first teacher, Sister Rosa, who died last year at age 101. She said:
He liked to ask Sister Rosa what he was like when he was a child, and the sister, who was old but very lucid, would reply: ‘You were a devil. Did you get better?’ And he would roar with laughter. Sister Rosa would tell him: ‘I remember when you learned your multiplication table on the stairs and you jumped the steps, two by two, repeating: two, four six. You were tireless.’
Just a few moments ago, the press office distributed the list of nations who have announced delegations to attend the event tomorrow — to which the Vatican issued no invitations, just announcements. A few of the notable arrivals:
- Iran – Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, with three others
- Israel – The vice-PM (name not listed), the ambassador, and one other; Barack Obama is in the middle of a state visit to Israel
- Cuba – the VP, listed as a Head of Government, plus four others
- China – President Ma Ying-Jeou and four others of Taiwan. Mainland China is not representing itself here, and the listing of Ma as China’s president is not likely to make relations better between the Holy See and Beijing.
- Egypt – Cultural Minister and two others
- Palestinian Authority – Minister Amira Hanna and three others
- UK – The Duke of Gloucester and three others, apparently none of ambassadorial rank. The current Duke of Gloucester is Prince Richard, cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, listed as 21st in line of succession.
The list of organizations sending delegations is also interesting:
- All of the Orthodox churches in the West and East
- The Anglican communion, although this is no surprise; the ecumenical ties between the Vatican and the Anglicans are strong
- Most of the Protestant groups, including the Baptist World Alliance, the World Evangelical Alliance, and even the Salvation Army
- A 16-member delegation of Jewish faith leaders, including a familiar name: Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, which will send three representatives, including Foxman.