Dear Blog Readers — I’m seeing RED. I’ve become obsessed with Cardinals. I am constantly contemplating Cardinals. I stay awake at night fretting about Cardinals and spend my days plotting to get Cardinal interviews. This week I will do a post on the Cardinals who are considered “papabili”, future Pope contenders, but now I just want to give you a little background on the numbers. The Conclave will be in March and I will do a separate post to describe how that works, but here’s some background on who’s voting and what they might be looking for.
There are 117 Cardinal Electors who will vote in the Conclave. To get elected Pope, a Cardinal needs a two-thirds majority, so 78 votes. Although he will have resigned, Pope Benedict XVI will still have a big influence on this Conclave because he has personally selected 67 of the electors, the rest were chosen by Pope John Paul II. The largest geographical block in the Conclave is the European block with 61 Cardinal Electors. Within that group is the largest national block, the Italians, with 28 Cardinals (Note: that means the Italians have one-fourth of the entire vote). The Latin Americans are 19, and the North Americans are 14, Africans are 11, Asians are 11, and Oceania (Australia) has 1 Cardinal elector.
So what will the Cardinals be looking for? Before the Conclave begins, the Cardinals will have one week of talks in Rome during which they will exam the problems of the Church. All the Cardinals who wish to address the group will be given an opportunity. It is basically the electoral campaign period.
Last week Pope Benedict XVI set out some guidelines for the Cardinal electors telling them a Pope needs “Physical and spiritual vigor” to face the “rapid changes of today’s world”.
The Cardinals will probably be looking for a good administrator. Pope Benedict was a bad administrator who wrote three books about Jesus while he was Pope while the men around him in the Vatican were back-stabbing each other. Most Vatican analysts believe the Cardinals will want to find a candidate who can put the house in order.
The Cardinals will probably be looking for an international candidate who speaks many languages, but who has also had experience working at the Vatican. Cardinals who have worked at the Vatican in Rome tend to have an advantage.
We are expecting most of the Cardinals to arrive in Rome by February 27th in time for Pope Benedict XVI’s last weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square and then his departure by helicopter from the Vatican at five o’clock on February 28th.
But there is one person who will be persona non grata in Rome. Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles.
There is a rising movement outside the Vatican to block Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles from participating in the Conclave. Mahony ran the Archdiocese of Los Angeles from 1985 to 2011, during that time he covered up 129 cases of priestly abuse of minors. He is supposed to testify in one case in court this Saturday.
I remember when Mahony came to Rome in 2001, when John Paul II called a meeting for all the US Cardinals to talk about the sexual abuse crisis in the US. A cameraman and I stopped Mahony as he was walking towards the Vatican one morning and asked him about sexual abuse by priests in Los Angeles, he literally shoved me aside and refused to comment. I suppose it is easier to shove aside an irritating journalist than to stop and speak the truth.
As a 77-year-old, Mahony has the right to participate and cast his vote for the next Pope, but many feel that the man who covered up for priests who sexually abused children for decades has no place in the Conclave. An American group, “Catholic United” has started a petition calling on Cardinal Mahony to stay home. Thousands of people have signed . This week the Italian Catholic Magazine “Famiglia Cristiana” posted a poll on line asking “Mahony in the Conclave: Yes or No?” The answer was a loud and clear “NO.”
But Mahony is definitely planning to come and vote as he indicated in this Tweet on February 18th. From @CardinalMahony “Count-down to the Papal Conclave has begun. Your prayers needed that we elect the best Pope for today and tomorrow’s Church.”
There is little doubt that anyone within the Vatican will stop Mahony from participating. Cardinal Bernard Law, who covered up case of pedophile priests in Boston, participated in the last Conclave, and people outside the church can make a good case, but the bottom line is, the Vatican is not a democracy.
Interestingly, the whole Mahony question has heated up a debate around the Vatican. The Italian papers were filled with reports today about a domino-like effect if one starts looking at Cardinals who have been involved in cover-ups. Several papers had photos of Cardinal Sean Brady from Ireland, Cardinal Godfried Daneels from Belgium, and Cardinal George Pell from Australia.
Today I covered a press conference at the Vatican with Ambrogio Piazzoni of the Vatican library, an expert on the history of conclaves. He shared with us some interesting stories of past Conclaves including one where the Cardinals were given less and less food until they were only giving them bread and water so they would hurry up and reach a decision. When asked whether there were any cases when Cardinal electors chose not to participate in a Conclave, he said Cardinal electors have only missed a Conclaves in the past only for reasons of illness or if they were blocked by their governments.
There are some very interesting and honorable men among the “papabili”, front-runners for Pope. Today I was working on profiles of all AP television’s top “papabili”. We are rushing to get video from Honduras, Ghana and Manila of some of the prominent Cardinals who are in the running. But that will be my next post.
Now, I know all my blog-readers may not be interested in all this detail about a Papal election, some of my blog-readers are more interested in my struggling working Mom experiences, and some of my blog readers are foodies. So for those of you who care less about the Vatican front, here is what is happening on the personal front.
Monday was my husband’s birthday. It was one of those days when I was so charged up about work I felt that every hair on my head was standing straight up with a yellow electric charge buzzing off each end. I flew home from the office to get there by 5:30 just in time to pick up Caterina at home, get Chiara at swimming and go with them to buy their present (a neck-tie). I then left Chiara at catechism class and went with Caterina to the supermarket to buy the ingredients for my foolproof, stressed-out, frazzled Mom, can’t blow it Chocolate Cheesecake.
I love my foolproof, frazzled Mom cheesecake because I figure I can drop it on the floor, flip it upside down, throw it across the room, and my kids will still eat it. The ingredients just make it taste so good, it doesn’t matter how much you mess it up– which is fairly often in my case.
After the supermarket, we went back to get Chiara, rushed home, made the chocolate cheese cake and then I started cooking dinner. It was already 8pm and my in-laws showed up enroute to a dinner party to wish my husband a happy birthday. They stayed for an hour so it was 9pm when we finally sat down at the dinner table. My son Nico inhaled his dinner as usual and then jumped up and said he would whip the cream to go on top of the cheesecake. While he was whipping the cream, I polished off my dinner.
I told him to spread the whip cream on top of the cheesecake and grate some chocolate flakes on top. But once again, I messed up. I forgot the the cake was still hot from the oven and when he put the whipped cream on top it melted into a messy liquid. Oh well, like I said, we ate it anyway and it was yummy.
So…if any foodies out there want to try and do a post on the Foolproof, Frazzled Mom cheesecake, please do so, and take a nice photo when you are done. Here’s the recipe.
FOOLPROOF, FRAZZLED MAMMA CHEESECAKE
Crush in the blender:
1.5 cups of Petit Beurre biscuits or Graham Crackers
Melt .5 cup of butter and mix with crackers
Spread in the bottom of a large, round, flat pan and spread up the edges. Grease the pan first
Filling: Mix in Cuisinart of Mixer
16 ounces of Philadelphia Cream Cheese (600 grams)
12 ounces (1.5 packages) Nestle Semi-sweet chocolate chips (350 grams of Ciocciolato fondente in Italy)
1 Can condensed milk (Eagle Brand or Nestle)
Pour filling over crust and cook for 30 minutes or however long it takes to look done.
After it cools, put in fridge. When ready to eat, spread whip cream on top and grate bittersweet chocolate on top.