Monday, April 18, 2005


Conclave chronicles

It is a difficult task writing a blog on the day of the Cardinals’ Conclave. So, Chronicles sent Meyer Boneface, Jr. to the Vatican to report on the vote for a new Pope.

ROME – First off, let me document that sometimes this city looks like it was built in a day. Ratty place, really. If it weren’t for the fragrance of great food being cooked in every cubby hole, this would be a stinking hole in the Earth. Ok, so, it adds to the mystery and, many believe, the Holy Spirit’s participation in what goes on here over the next few days. The conclave to elect a new pope is the focus of Roman Catholic Church. The conclave’s action is one of history's longest-lived electoral experiences. It is filled with tradition, though the Three Musketeers are never mentioned in the process.

The event has not occurred in more than 26 years. Actually, it was after the death of the Pope before this one that brought the conclave together and that, as far as history reveals, was the last time the word “conclave” was used in a news report. The process dates back nearly a millennium, which even then was misspelled more times than not.

Somehow, though it is not allowed, I got into the conclave. I am using a blanket I got from a bullfight report I did last summer in Barcelona. It is weird in this room of top Catholic men who all smell like Old Spice aftershave lotion. I cannot think with all these guys mumbling. All of them are candidates as well as they make up the electorate. There are already favorites in the race for Pope.

The longest conclave took two years, nine months and two days in the election of Gregory X. That was in 1271. Gregory X, not surprisingly, wrote rules to speed the conclaves and demanded to know how the name “Gregory” got so popular. He said that if no Pope was elected within three days, Cardinal rations were to be cut to one meal a day. After five more days, the Cardinals would be restricted to bread and water. On the sixth day, they would have to cook their own meals.

That did it. The next election lasted one day. The new pope, Innocent V, lasted five months. Before he died, though, he demanded to know how the name “Innocent” became so popular.

That’s my report for now, because someone is coming and I have to act like I am a Cardinal or be kicked out. I told them my name was Cardinal Claudia and some of them are beginning to get suspicious.

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