(Vatican Radio) The Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Fr. Federico Lombardi,
SJ, held a briefing in the media centre specially erected inside the Paul VI Hall
to accommodate the more than 5 thousand journalists accredited to cover the Conclave.
The session began at 1 PM, roughly an hour and a half after black smoke billowed from
the chimney above the Sistine Chapel, indicating that the Cardinal-electors had not
reached consensus in the two morning rounds of balloting. During the course of his
remarks, Fr. Lombardi, SJ assured journalists that the process is proceeding normally,
especially in light of recent Papal elections. Listen:
He noted that, since the beginning of the 20th century, only Pope Pius XII was elected in three ballots. Fr. Lombardi, SJ, also read a statement from German Cardinal Karl Lehmann, who participated in the Conclave that elected Benedict XVI in 2005. “This is not a rushed process, one approaches the altar very slowly holding high in his hands the ballot that he just completed,” the statement read, continuing, “[t]he atmosphere is completely meditative and deeply intense.” Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, shared some of his sentiments regarding the gravity and solemnity of the Cardinals’ entrance into the Sistine Chapel at the start of the Conclave ceremony. “When [Fr Lombardi, SJ] told me the night before, that [I] would be going into the Sistine Chapel, I lost a little bit of sleep that night, trying to imagine what this would be,” he said.
Fr Rosica went on to say, “When we entered, I think there were three things that struck me very much when I was in that room: when I was a little boy, I used to see these movies on TV, about everything that happened here, and watching Cardinals going into the Sistine Chapel – and all of a sudden, I realized, this was no longer a movie, but this was happening before our very eyes – it was a deeply moving experience; I had chills going up my spine as I heard the Sistine Choir begin the haunting chant of the Litany of the Saints and then the Veni Creator; as I watched the Cardinals go up the ramp, I looked at those faces, and I saw, not just the Cardinals, but their countries, and their nations – and I started to [ask myself] what must the people feel like in that particular country, that, this man is entering that Chapel with all of them.” Fr. Rosica said, “I realized I was part of something that is much, much bigger than I am, [than] anything that I have ever imagined.”
The briefing was not without its lighter moments, as well. During the question and answer period, one journalist asked whether Fr. Lombardi SJ had any thoughts regarding a feminist group’s attempt at provocation by going topless in the square. “As far as the feminist group [Pink Smoke] is concerned, well, it is not my particular concern – it seems clear to me that the folks who were in St Peter’s Square were rather concerned with seeing the smoke.” Fr. Lombardi added, “[I]f they continue to think it well to come here and make this sort of manifestation, I hope they don’t catch cold, because it is very chilly in this period.”