Rome analysis: It probably took the intersection of several currents in the College of Cardinals to carry Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the papacy.
On Sunday March 10, as the cardinals fanned out across Rome to celebrate Mass at their titular churches -- those assigned to them in an ancient linkage with the Bishop of Rome -- Brazilian Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer celebrated a mid-morning liturgy at Sant'Andrea al Quirinale, a beautiful if comparatively small church with pews for 200 worshipers.
Twice that many media members surrounded the seating area, the camera operators angling to position their viewfinders as the cardinal preached his homily in Italian, reflecting on the Gospel parable of The Prodigal Son.
John Allen in Rome: Wednesday may be the "make or break" day for the papal candidates as conclave continues.
Rome dispatch: As the cardinals head into conclave to elect the next pope, a special Mass held Tuesday morning offered much pomp, but little direction.
John Allen in Rome: By now, we've all heard of several men who could become pope. But how did we arrive at that conclusion?
Now that my "Papabile of the Day" series is over, several readers have asked if there were cardinals who just missed the cut, meaning contenders I would have liked to profile if time had permitted, even if I regard them as long shots.
At one level, I'm tempted to say I would have liked to profile all 115 electors, so no matter what happens I can't possibly be wrong!
Seriously, however, there are a few plausible candidates I would have liked to get into the mix had not the clock run out.
Rome dispatch: Today, the cardinals focused on the rituals involved with conclave, including what the smoke announcing the new pope's election will look like.
As a few night owls strolled through the crisp Roman evening Feb. 28, they were illuminated by one less reflection of lights. Behind the northern side of the square’s iconic colonnades, the apostolic palace was dark.
In a small but tell-tale sign of the transition facing the church, the lights of the pope’s apartment had been turned off.
If it hasn’t happened by the time you are reading this newspaper, sometime very soon the Catholic church will have a new pope. Naturally the world will be waiting to find out what kind of leader he’s likely to be, and his first few days therefore loom as critical moments to begin shaping his papacy.
Eight years ago, when the cardinals of the world gathered to elect a successor to Pope John Paul II, their watchword was “continuity.” Buoyed by the massive outpouring of grief and affection for the late pope that washed through the streets of Rome, they felt they had just witnessed the end of a massively successful pontificate, and they wanted to keep the momentum going.
The man who was the intellectual architect of John Paul’s papacy, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, therefore seemed an obvious choice.