During a Second "On Command" Trip to The Vatican
by miguel de Portugal (*)
April 17, 2005 - April 21, 2005
During the Conclave
The following are general observations which are intended to give the faithful: (a) A bird's eye view of the Rome and Vatican scenes during the recent Conclave; and (b) A better understanding of the ever increasing problems the Roman Catholic Church continues to face with no let up in sight.1. As stated in the report on the first trip to Rome - the atmosphere in this trip was that of a Theme Park such as Disney World and others. Ear plugs were a must to maintain some semblance of recollection in the Holy Sanctuaries.
2. In spite of the large festive crowds, which, although not as great as reported, were ample - this writer had the opportunity to adore Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament in the appropriate chapel in St. Peter's without any difficulty. There was always plenty of room in that chapel (and little interest amongst "the faithful" to honor God in His Eucharistic presence). Those who came, stayed just briefly. A pair of earplugs were indeed a blessed companion to m de P.
3. There were always confessors available. However, it seems that all the faithful present in Rome at that time were in an immaculate state - since the confessionals were not visited much. But ... what is new -- besides the reality that the situation is worse?
4. In the Arch Basilica of S. John of Lateran - the Mother of all Churches - the scene was not much different. There was ample room to adore our Eucharistic Lord and no interest to partake of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, even though there were always confessors available.
5. In the Basilica of St. Mary Major, the oldest church ever dedicated to Mary and built in response to a request from Our Lady (and now the "Flag Ship" Basilica of Bernard Law, the living "Patron Saint" of pedophile priests), it was more of the same. Not much interest in6. Visited the Castle of St. Angelo around noon of the 19th of April (that afternoon the election was completed). This is actually the Castle of St. Michael which has an enormous statue of St. Michael at its summit and another very large one in an inside courtyard. The throng of tourists, passed off by the programmed media as devoted faithful, was not large.
Eucharistic Adoration and no interest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Should we be surprised with such a "Patron Saint" in charge?
This writer "continued to make a spectacle of himself" by Vatican standards... Undaunted by the Country Fair grounds atmosphere, he offered the Chaplet of St. Michael before the imposing statue at the summit of the castle, and also offered the Prayer of the Angelus.
7. The "Noon Fumata" - the smoke coming out of the Sistine Chapel around noon - was witnessed from this vantage point. As scheduled, it was still dark.
8. In the afternoon of that same date, and moved by the knowledge that the election would be announced that afternoon, he returned to St. Peter's Square. A very striking change from the morning crowd was noticed. The morning "Fumata watching crowd" had the normal curious tourist flavor to it. The afternoon crowd was all ready for the "surprise" announcement. Plenty of banners, flags from different nations, etc. -- all that was needed for a well-orchestrated "spontaneous" celebration at the election of a Pope.
9. With the smoke stack from the Sistine Chapel shown on all the giant screens around St. Peter's, everyone waited with great
anxiety for the "news". Naturally, the only fool that seemed to be praying in the area was miguel de Portugal. By his third day at St. Peter's he was under the watchful eye of security because he was acting significantly different than the milling crowds - he was praying most of the time. This is not an exaggeration!
10. Close to 6 P.M. (cannot be certain of the exact minute) smoke started pouring out the closely-watched, well-televised chimney. The crowd started cheering and went silent again. It was very hard to tell whether it was dark or white smoke - it could have been difficulty at the source, the lighting and/or the projected image on the screens. Not to worry - it had been made known from after the first vote that St. Peter's Bells would toll as a confirmation because of this visual problem.
Logically the order to toll the bells would come from the same individuals who were trying to get the right colored smoke come out from the chimney. All this was completely logical - no conspiracy theory - just a practical fool proof and much welcomed method to confirm to the crowd that an election had been made.
11. The crowds cheered and then went silent and then cheered again, etc. as the smoke refused to reveal its secret. Truly - it was a 50-50 chance - it was simply impossible to ascertain what color it was. What was really strange is that it was more than 20 minutes before St. Peter's bells tolled. This unusual situation was picked up by many - press included. Maybe the Bell Tolling Instruction Book had been misplaced....
12. What was so striking, enough to force miguel de Portugal to try to figure out how to use the camera built in his mobile phone was that - no sooner those bells started tolling, what was a partly (but lightly) clouded sky became ominously dark and a chilling cold wind started blowing with significant strength. m de P took refuge under the colonnade because the impression was that of an impending fierce rainstorm. The rainstorm did not materialize - it was just "Heaven speaking."
Image No. 1 recorded by the camera as taken at 6:15 PM - 19 April 2005
Image No. 2 recorded by the camera as taken at 6:16 PM - 19 April 2005
Image No. 3 recorded by the camera as taken at 6:17 PM - 19 April 2005
13. At this point m de P noticed that masses of people were pouring into St. Peter's Square through every possible avenue from Rome leading to it. Since he knew that the election had been in accordance to the Active Will of God, he did not really care who had been the man elected; therefore, he left the refuge of the colonnade and headed toward the Metro. About three blocks from the Square, while walking against the sea of people rushing towards St. Peter's, he heard the sound of sirens, and music from a marching band.
Sure enough! A spectacular Marching Band wearing an even more spectacular uniform and head gear was also heading to St. Peter's to celebrate the election. The only thought which crossed m de P's mind was: "We should be so lucky if firemen and/or medical emergency personnel would respond so quickly to an emergency - even though they do not have to get into such spectacular and elaborate uniforms." Who knows, Princess Diana would still be alive if those who rushed to the scene of her accident in Paris would have been so swift or so programmed...
May those who Have Eyes, See, and Ears, Hear.
14. In spite of all (confirming information) that m de P had been a witness of so far, God still had additional rewards awaiting for him in the flight out of Rome scheduled for April 21st - on the 2758th birthday celebration of Rome.
In addition to the already addressed avoidable scandal of the high profile Spanish Cardinal Rouco Varela rubbing in the face of a full plane of Spaniards and members of the media that he was flying First Class - just what Jesus would not do! [Points to Ponder post dated April 22, 2005] God had even more surprises for m de P.
Through an obvious act of Providence, m de P ended up sitting in the airplane between two members of the Press Corps. One was obviously a commentator since he was going through six or seven newspapers in different languages, fast and furiously, reading all articles dealing with the election while underlining and circling this and that.
The second one was less obvious. As he conversed with m de P it became obvious that he had traveled extensively worldwide for the last 30 years, then, that he was somehow associated with the Press and, above all, that he was an upstanding non fanatical Catholic who understood and fully lived his Faith. Then it became clear that he was in Rome reporting on the Conclave.
Following are the highlight of his comments about this experience:
(1) He had been treated so badly by the Navarro-Valls led Vatican Press office that, although he was going to stay to report on Sunday's Inaugural Mass and then fly on to Milan for another major event to report on, he opted to fly out of Rome, skip the Sunday Mass (report on it from the TV reports) and fly back to Milan on Monday.
(2) The Vatican Press office had made available only four or five computers for the thousands upon thousands of accredited journalists present for these events. This obviously very experienced gentleman could not make sense of this since for much lesser news events the host organization always made available to the Press every possible convenience to work with. He was thankful for a religious order in Rome, with whom he had excellent rapport, who assisted him in trying to do his work.
(3) The one time he went (tried to go, anyway) to the Vatican Press Office to seek some information - with his accreditation card15. Upon landing, and just before deplaning, m de P and his new found journalist friends bade good bye. Then the gentleman with whom he had interacted most with (see above), pulled his business card and gave it to him. As it turned out, this "reporter" was no one other than the Director of a major newspaper in one of the most important countries in Latin America. In major events, he does not send his reporters to cover it; he goes himself in person.
hanging from his neck as required - he was rudely stopped just at the entrance and rushed out of the door in spite of his protests.
This explained to m de P what he saw when a Vatican Security officer forbade an obvious professional photographer - with his
accreditation card hanging from his neck as required - to continue filming whatever he was filming in St. Peter's Square.
We praised God because this man - certainly not anti Catholic - received a first hand taste of the media manipulation by the Vatican and, of course, now he will understand, with additional information that God Providentially supplied him, what is really behind all of this.
To the work that must be carried out by m de P - this was "the cherry applied to the frosting on the cake", so to speak!
A most worthwhile trip! (In addition to the primary reasons for which he was commanded to Rome in very short notice.)
(*) This was his fourth trip to Rome, but the second one after his miraculous conversion in 1985.
Access to First Rome Trip Report