Father Anthony, from Sussex, UK, a Licentiate of Sacred Theology (STL), has been a Catholic priest for over 35 years. He has spent quite a bit of time in Rome. He took part in the St. Peter’s Mass after the 1976 consistory. He was at the St. Peter’s Piazza to hear Habemus Papam when Pope John Paul II (#265) was elected. Refer to this post. He attended the November 20 cardinal creating consistory.
Father Anthony, as promised prior to his departure to Rome for the consistory, sent me this account, via e-mail, for posting here. It is posted here in its original form.
Here are some initial thoughts on my recent visit to Rome for the consistory.
The Holy Father seems to be in excellent form. He has inevitably aged somewhat in the last year, but, as we saw here in England in September, he is able to maintain a remarkable pace for a man who will be 84 next April. It is also very clear that he is held in great affection by so many people in Rome. He is not really a “manager”, and there are many problems regarding the Roman Curia, but he is a great teacher and preacher. As we saw here in Britain, when he is able to be seen and heard by people “in person”, he makes a great impact. His gentleness and goodness are very striking. He is also a very prayerful celebrant of the Liturgy.
There is always discussion of “papabili“, but it remains highly theoretical.
Many Americans came in support of Cardinals Burke and Weurl. They represent two very different strains of American Catholicism.
It was a very “Curial” consistory, also very Italian. Under Cardinal Bertone there is a much more Italian character to things. Many senior posts are held by Italians. It could well be that it will take an Italian Pope to sort out the problem of having too many Italian cardinals. Such a Pope would need to be able to think “outside the box”, i.e., outside the Italian culture.
Both Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi and Cardinal Angelo Amato are seen as “papabili“.
It is very difficult to imagine how the cardinals might feel at a future conclave because so much depends on the atmosphere at the time.
I will have some more reflections in the next day or two.
It was great to be in Rome at this time and to have the opportunity of meeting so many people and sharing ideas.