Wigmore in Rome
ONE of the most curious elements in the election of the new Pope was the amazingly swift publication of L'Osservatore Romano within an hour of the first official announcement. The officiel Vatican newspaper heralded the election of Albino Luciani with a large front page photoograph, another photograph on page 2 (both taken long preeviously), and a detailed bioography of John Paul I.
The newspaper was on sale in St. Peter's Square as the crowd was leaving after the official blessing, the parade of Swiss Guards, and the initial jubilations.
Quite coincidentally, I wandered into the printing offices of L'Osservatore Romano two days later while looking for the photographic offices in the Vatican. My initial impressions were that the printing presses there would hardly have been able to prooduce a newspaper within the one hour interval between the announcement of the choice of a new Pope and the appearrance of the paper in St. Peter's Square. The following day I made a closer inspection and noted that the typesetting machinery was of the old hotttype variety (non-electronic) which would seem to suggest that there was no way in which the paper could have been printed and distributed il the time available.
Added to that, it was quite clear that at least some parts of the Vatican bureaucracy were as unprepared for the early election as were the press and the world in general.
So how was L'Osservatore Romano able to be on the streets with such a compreehensive profile of the new Pope so quickly?
It could be that they had papers printed up about all the III cardinals and they simply needed to take out the correct one. Or it could be that they had profiles in type of all the likely candidates. Or it could be that the Holy Spirit tipped off the editors of the paper of the Holy See some time in advance of the public getting to know-in which case the Holy Spirit was in "flagrant breach of Pope Paul's' very rigid rules governing secrecy within the conclave. Or maybe the Holy Spirit did even better: informing the editors some days in advance (even before the Conclave began) on who would be the next Pope.
POPE PAUL'S rules on conclave procedure are very strict, especially about the maintenance of strict secrecy about everything to do with the conclave, stating that the merest breach of secrecy incurs automatic exxcommunication, This now means that the College of Cardinals has been reduced by at least six members since the new Pope's election, as several have spoken of what went on inside the conclave. Even the new Pope himself might be in difficulty, as he revealed in his Sunday morning homily on the day after the election that when it looked as though he might be chosen, fellow cardinals told him to be brave. It seems that the Pontiff may have powers to dispense with the rules for himself, but not so for the cardinals. Among those who have talked are Cardinals Vilot and Marty (France), Koenig (West Germany), and Baggio and Pignedoli (Italy and Curia).
INDEED it wasn't the first time that the solemn vow of secrecy has been breached after Papal conclaves. A book published in Italy some months ago, Quala Papa by Giancarlo Zizola, presents in tabular form each of the votes for each of the conclaves since the beginning of the century. For instance, when Pope John XXIII was elected Pope in 1958, he got only seven votes out of 44 on the first count, coming far behind Ruffini and Agaginian with 17 and 13 votes respectively. In subsequent counts Octaviani began to make ground and on the fourth he had 16 votes, one ahead of Roncali, who . became John XXIII. It was i only on the fifth count that . Roncali pulled away and he i got elected on the sixth.
PRESS facilities at the Vatican are surprisingly modern and efficient with an American priest giving daily briefings at noon on all that is happening and likely to happen. Each afternoon, prior :0, during, and immediately after the Conclave a panel of American Jesuits answered questions on almost anything to do with the Church, strainning their ingenuity at times.
At one of the noon briefings, the American priest (Fr. Jim Roche) was asked the height of the chimney stack, what was Vatican II anyway, and how many bathrooms the cardinals had excess to in the Conclave.
As very often happens on occasions such as these, the main source of information is fellow journalists. Thus mild speculation returns as connfirmed fact having gone through the mouths of half the press corps. And in a sense it doesn't matter as most of such "information" is unncheckable and undeniable.
Apersistent rumour around the Vatican has been that Archbishop Thomas 0 Fiach will be denied the red hat because of his "indiscreet" statement on Long Kesh. Reputedly, Vatican authorities are displeased, the British legation there has been stirring up trouble and, most signifiicantly, Jack Lynch has let it be known that he opposes o Fiach being made a cardinal. I encountered no official Vatican displeasure with o Fiach and officials of the Irish embassy denied any knowledge of British legation attempts to block 0 Fiach, which leaves the Jack Lynch Issue.
Since returning to Dublin, I have been in a position to check this with the Taoiseach himself and he categorically said: "I have never expressed an opinion on the issue, if asked I would refuse to express an opinion on the issue, and I don't believe that I would be consulted in any circumstances on the matter. Indeed, contrary to popular belief, at least for my part, the Taoiseach is never connsulted on the appointment of a bishop or cardinal and if I were ever consulted I would refuse to offer an opinion."
WE were flattered that so W many members of the RTE newsroom thought so highly of our interview with the Provisional IRA in the August issue of Magill that they telexed and broadcast it to radio stations and newsspapers throughout the world, thereby earning fat fees for themselves. A pity their exxertions for the foreign press and radio didn't allow them time to broadcast even a mention of the interview on RTE.
BECAUSE we have been in Rome, we are unable to pursue the fingerprint affair in this issue. In the October edition, Wigmore will return with vigour to the subject •