TtOTH after this conclave, which elected Pope Paul VI and the 1958 one, which chose Pope John, I was on hand to meet as he came out Cardinal Norman Gilroy, Archbishop of Sydney, Australia. After Pope John's election, he advanced on me, smiling happily and exclaiming, "We have given the world a wonderful Pope"; and thanked him the other day for providing me with the "natural" opening line to numerous pieces I had written about the late Pope over . the past five years.
This time, he was equally enthusiastic. "Pope Paul will be a magnificent pope", he said. "Like Pius XII (under whom he served for many years in the Secretariat of State), he has had experience in administering the Church, and like Pope John (who was Patriarch of Venice) he has had, in Milan, experience in administering a diocese".
Cardinal Gilroy added that Pope
Paul "has the wonderful calm serenity of Pius XII together with the urbanity of John XXIII". It would have been difficult, he said, to find anywhere in the world a more popular choice and the speed with which the conclave elected Pope Paul proved that he was neither a "transitional" nor a "compromise" Pope. He was a wonderful successor to Pope John and the Church would flourish under his rule.
Typical of Cardinal Gilroy was the gracious gesture he made, from an Australian prelate to an Italian priest, in choosing a conclavist, or attendant, to accompany him into the conclave. He picked handsome Don Mario Di Sora, aged 55, who for many years has been parish priest of the ancient Church of Santa Maria in Navicella, on the Coelian Hill, one of the SevenHills of Rome.
The Blue Nuns' (Little Company of Mary) Hospital, where the cardinal always stays on his visits to Rome. is in this parish and only
a short distance from the church, and during the many years he has
been coming here, Cardinal Gilroy has become a close friend of Don Mario. It is a rare privilege to take part in a conclave and Cardinal Gilroy sprang it on the delighted priest out of the blue. He introduced me to Don Mario as they arrived at the Blue Nuns' after the conclave and I have rarely seen anyone so tickled pink, and grateful.
As Archbishop Heenan put it after Cardinal Montini's election, "It can be said that the new Pope was already elected before the conclave opened". Pope Paul is rightly being credited with having shatteringly disproved the centuries-old dictum that "He who enters the conclave Pope, comes out cardinal", but this is not by any means the first time the dictum has been belied, • After all, no one could have entered the 1939 conclave more thoroughly "Pope" than Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, who was chosen Pope Pius XII in even shorter time than it took the 80 cardinals in last week's gonclave to elect Pope Paul. And while Cardinal Angelo Roncalli, who was destined to succeed Pope Pius in 1958, was not as widely known outside ecclesiastical circles as either Cardinals Pacelli or Montini, he was certainly no "dark horse" around the Vatican.
I recall that before the 1958 conclave, when in common with my fellow foreign correspondents, was specularing on who was likely to socceed Pius XII, I used to call regularly on my old friend, Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty, then an official of the Holy Office. Every time I put any names to him, he would counter with a single phrase — "Don't go off Roncalli".
When it reached almost themesong proportions, I prowled round
other corners of the Vatican and got the same reaction. I confess I knew nothing of Cardinal Roncalli, but I made it my business to find out about him and, fortuitously, included him in my short list of "possibles". In the light of what we know now, what a name his would have been to discard entirely!
This time,. as last. one of the most helpful arrangements for correspondents was a trip through the conclave area, including the Sistine Chapel and the parts of the Papal Palace where the cardinals were accommodated, a day or two before the conclave itself opened.
The tour was conducted by the always amiable Monsignor William Carew, a Canadian member of the Secretariat of State, who, incidentally, has moved up into charge of the English desk
there in place of Monsignor Thomas Ryan, now Bishop of Clonfert.
Young Monsignor Carew is becoming an old hand at these guided tours and he has fascinating knowledge of the Vatican ins and out. He used to stand in as English interpreter for Pope John at audiences, and on other occasions. when Monsignor Ryan was not about, and I know he will not mind my revealing now that it was to him that Pope John made a remark which I have often published as being something in the nature of a self-coined epitaph for the wonderful old man.
The Pope was going to the opening of the new Beda College in Rome and he wanted to wind up his speech by saying a few words in his anything but perfect English. Monsignor Carew had been rehearsing him over and over again. Finally, Pope ,John put down the script. "You know, my son", he said, "nobody expects an old man of 80 to learn a new language. let alone speak it well. It's the effort that counts . .."
What with all the stories about the great Malachy prophesying that the Pope this time would be a cardinal with flowers in his coat of arms (as Cardinal Montini had), and a Pope with an "R" in his name (like Roncalli) being followed by one without an "IS", and a fat Pope always being followed by a lean Pope, it seems incredible now that we all didn't plump for Cardinal Montini and let it go at that.
The most unequivocal piece of prediction 1 saw, however, was in a Milan newspaper. It solemnly declared that if Cardinal Montini, the hot favourite, was not elected by last Friday (as he was), a decisive vote on Saturday would favour Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro of Bologna, on Sunday, Cardinal Paolo Marella, Archpriest of St. Peter's, and on Monday, Cardinal Gregory Peter XV Agagianian, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith.
Well. ho hum . . .