The Corner

4 P.M. and Raining (Again)

Rome — It’s like this place has been under clouds since the pope flew away from the Vatican City. It’s cold and the uncertainty may have become a hopeful anticipation — certainly more hopeful than anxious. There’s something about having the name that people are longing for.

Lots of buzz going around about lots of things, bu you know it’s largely from people who get paid to have something to say needing something to say, from folks around town being asked enough that finally they have to say something, flagging it as total speculation.

I’ve worked through various scenarios in my own mind, and over meals with Vatican observers and others. The Americans provided a lot to talk about, and now a lot of people I find are praying, and drinking wine . . .

There is a perpetual adoration stop for prayer right by St. Peter’s run by a youth ministry, but unfortunately those who stop in to pray for the conclave have been met by way-too-ambitious reporters putting cameras in their faces.

What has become the routine is the convergence on St. Peter’s Square every late morning and evening now. Wait and watch. Press photographers must have the same shots: young people in prayer, nuns, young priests. All watching the chimney. I know students who have moved their classes closer to the square so they can run down when it happens.

And there is more traffic here than I thought there would be. Waiting to go on Piers Morgan last night at the end of the Via della Conciliazione, the traffic didn’t really seem to die down until 2:15 or so in the morning, even while the Via itself seemed asleep or at prayer.

I can’t imagine some cardinals are getting a lot of sleep. Or, on the other hand, the holiest might be sleeping rather soundly, leaving their future in God’s hands.

For now, some of us are doing a lot of talking. Because the media needs someone too, and while there is no news to tell yet, there is this opportunity to focus on a Church in reform and renewal, even between popes. Some of its life here is what I believe to be the mystical body of Christ gathering at the tomb of St. Peter, in living witness to a vibrant truth. Sin remains, but so does love, and they gather as they believe that the latter triumphs — and has, ultimately — everyday growing and living and loving in this reality. 


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