Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, held a press conference at the Media Center located in Paul VI hall for the thousands of journalists from around the world covering the Conclave.
Fr. Lombardi, along with Fr. Thomas Rosica and Msgr. Jose Maria Gil Tamayo, were invited yesterday to witness the entrance of the Cardinal electors to the Sistine Chapel. Fr. Lombardi stated that several of those present jokingly referred to the three spokesmen as “the Trinity”.
The director of the Holy See Press Office conveyed the joy and emotion in the plaza last night where he observed that “there were more people than I had expected.”
“This morning as well, the atmosphere was really serene and joyous,” he noted.
“I remember at the last conclave 8 years ago, people left their offices and, because of the traffic, arrived by foot to the Square to see the presentation of the new pope. It shows that they truly live this moment and that they love and wish well to the new pontiff.”
Commenting on the two votes that yielded black smoke last night and this morning, Fr. Lombardi said that it was expected that the Cardinal electors would not elect a Roman Pontiff last night. “This is the normal procedure during the discernment process, it is perfectly normal and should in no way be misconstrued as an indication of division between the cardinals,” Fr. Lombardi said.
To give some perspective as to the unlikeliness of an election of a Roman pontiff after the 3rd vote, Fr. Lombardi stated that the last pope to be elected after a third vote was Pope Pius XII in 1939 during World War II.
Whereabouts of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Fr. Lombardi stated that he had spoken briefly with Archbishop Georg Ganswein, Prefect of the Papal Household and secretary to the Pope Emeritus, and asked him about the well-being of Benedict XVI.
“The Holy Father has been very attentive and participating spiritually with his prayers,” Fr. Lombardi said. Archbishop Ganswein informed Fr. Lombardi that Benedict XVI had watched yesterday’s “Missa Pro Eligendo Pontifice” as well as the entrance of the Cardinal electors into the Sistine chapel on television.
Fr. Lombardi confirmed that the Roman Pontiff Emeritus will not be present at the first mass of the newly elected Pope.
Reactions to the Conclave
Fr. Thomas Rosica, CEO of Canada’s Salt and Light TV and assistant to Fr. Lombardi during the Conclave, spoke on being present at the Sistine Chapel, which he described as a “deeply moving experience.
“As I saw the cardinals go up the ramp, I saw also their countries, their nations represented in each of their faces. It was very moving,” he said. “I saw that I was a part of something bigger than [myself] or anything that I have been to. It was prayer, it was beauty, it was the church, it was humanity.”
Many of the questions asked by the journalists, most of whom have never covered a major Catholic event, ranged from “how does the newly elected Pope choose his name” to “did the cardinals have wine with their lunch today”.
One journalist asked Fr. Lombardi regarding a protest by two women near the square who belong to the group Pink Smoke, and if it was matter of concern for the Holy See. The feminist group demand the ordination of female priests by launching pink smoke and protesting topless. Due to their aggressive protests and indecency, the protesters were detained by Roman police.
“The rest of the people in the square were more interested in seeing the smoke. Their group is more than welcome to join in watching. My only concern is that they don’t catch cold in this weather,” Fr. Lombardi said.