From the very first vote on Monday evening, Ratzinger was at the front of the pack of contenders. And almost before the electors knew it, the grave atmosphere of the conclave was over, and they were singing Latin songs, eating chicken cordon bleu and toasting the new pope with spumante.Nah. I'm sure it wasn't for political reasons.
"It's wonderful to be in a group of 115 people, and you're all equals. You're all talking: Eminence this, Eminence that, first name this, first name that. And then suddenly, one of you is different," said Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington. "He's no longer one of you. He's the Holy Father, the successor to Peter and the Vicar of the Christ."
For years, Joseph Ratzinger was a rarity in the church, the only Vatican official other than John Paul with global name recognition. His book-length interview with an Italian journalist, "The Ratzinger Report," was a European bestseller in the mid-1990s and sold 50,000 copies in English.
Already the best-known member of the College of Cardinals, his profile only increased after John Paul died on April 2. He presided over the pope's funeral, led the cardinals in their closed-door sessions to discuss the state of the church and celebrated Mass at St. Peter's Basilica on Monday, the day the conclave began.
Deliberately or not, Ratzinger reduced the attention other cardinals got from the news media by persuading his colleagues to agree to stop talking to reporters on the day after John Paul's funeral. That news blackout put an end to the traditional floating of candidates during the novemdiales, or nine-day mourning period, after the death of a pope.
...Can I get a witness? Why, here in the godless United States, we just can't decide whether murder, assault, misleading the public, slaughtering thousands by crashing airplanes into buildings, stealing, beating up old ladies,
Asked when the cardinals began focusing on Ratzinger as a candidate, McCarrick replied with a grin: "When we read the newspapers. Because the newspapers were telling us that Cardinal Ratzinger is the favorite. So we see, the Holy Spirit may speak through the newspapers -- sometimes even the Italian newspapers."
On Monday...Ratzinger gave a stinging homily against the West's creeping "dictatorship of relativism." Those who hold firmly to belief in God and moral absolutes, he said, are accused of fundamentalism, while the only socially acceptable attitude seems to be that everything is relative and nothing is clearly right or wrong.
Effect of article on yours truly: Hunger for chicken cordon bleu.
For a little fun with Mithra, try this page by someone who actually thinks Judaism is somehow "pure" and non-pagan. Did his homework, though.
UPDATE: The New York Times today (Friday, April 22) has an excellent interactive Flash presentation on Benedict "Bennie" 16. It's in the right-hand column about halfway down. I'd link to it but it's a popup window and life is too short.