Friday, March 8, 2013

Rome: Some Tips For Bored Reporters

"You need a story...?  Well, Sr Maria Bernadina was telling us this morning before Mass that Mother Angela's hip is in much better form today so she might be able hold off on the surgery for a few more months. Oh yes, and then there is Padre Luigi's verruca...."
If you want to text your favourite Cardinal to arrange a post-Conclave lunch you had better do it soon as the Vatican Gendarmerie are installing the technology to keep the College from being contacted or contacting anyone during the Conclave.  Rome Reports has an interesting snippet on this and the security which is being put in place. 

Cardinal Pham has arrived, so all the electoral Cardinals are now in Rome, we may expect a date for the Conclave soon.   However, I think we need to be patient - the Cardinals need time to talk and think and these days of the Sede Vacante allow that. 
The media want a quick Conclave because their respective publications need a story for the day, but they can wait.  A Conclave need not start until the 20th March, and if that time is needed to really talk about what the Church needs, then it is time well spent.   Some are saying that they are taking a long time: actually they are not - this is normal.  It seems long because Benedict announced his intention to abdicate on the 11th February, and then there is no Papal funeral to fill in the time, as it were.  If the Pope had died the Cardinals would still be doing all this but we would be distracted by the lying in state and funeral rites.   I imagine that when they do go in to the Conclave we may well see a quick election and a new pope perhaps after a couple of days - which is actually the norm given the last few Conclaves.
I realise that the media is restless - apparently there are about 5,000 journalists in Rome and they are twiddling their thumbs anxiously.  So, for all of these reporters, a few ideas to fill in the time and help them resist the urge to fall back on fiction when filing their articles.
First of all, if they are Catholic and have been away from the Sacraments, they can pop into St Peter's and go to confession.  All language groups are catered for and the confessors are very good and gentle.  If they feel the need to really make amends for past failures, they can pop over to St John Lateran, there is a confessor in there and he will give them a hefty penance and get them praying for every intention under the sun (bring a notebook).  If reporters are in doubt, just go to St John Lateran!
Secondly, the Station Masses are taking place in various Churches in the city. It is a wonderful Lenten spiritual exercise which also doubles as a spiritual itinerary to some of the most beautiful Basilicas and churches in Rome.   The English Mass is at 7am, or in Italian in the evening.  To find out where the Mass is for any given day just ask an American seminarian (seen riding a bike, with cassock, helmet and backpack - bottle of water stuck in sash optional), or you can consult the NAC website.
A visit to some of the city's more unusual sites can also fill in a few hours as reporters come to terms with the new media silence from the General Congregations.  One of the more fascinating, informative and indeed cautionary, is the Museum of Purgatory, guaranteed to get one thinking.  After that visit, if you have not been to St John Lateran's, you will feel the urge to go ASAP.
Plenty of great little bars for coffee and also offering a nice selection of pastries - it's Lent so avoid them.
Then there are some wonderful bookshops.  The Ancora bookshop at the top of the Via Conciliazione offers a wide selection of books in English (in the basement).  There is also the Leonine bookshop behind the Via Concilizione on Via dei Corridori.  In either of these reporters can pick up books on Catholicism and find out what we actually believe, and they will also find some of Pope Benedict's books - perhaps they could pass a few hours sitting in St Peter's Square reading what Benedict actually wrote.
Of course when in Rome do as the Romans do: pop over to the Missionaries of Charity and offer your services - they could do with some help serving dinners, helping the homeless or doing odd jobs around the city.  Bring your wallet (they don't take credit cards, just cash).  And do not worry about missing any announcements - the nuns of Rome are the first to know all the news so they'll tell you if anything happens. 
And, of course, siesta.  When it comes to noon forget everything and go to bed until about 5pm: it is against the Romani's religion to do any work in those hours of the riposo, and when Catholics are in Rome we are all Romani, so too our Cardinals.
And last, but not least, indeed one of the most important: join us in prayer.

No comments:

Post a Comment