Peter of Rome
I know The Book of Thoth isn’t out yet, so this is getting a bit ahead of myself, but consider this short tale a bridge between Thoth and the next VVH novel… Enjoy!
PETER OF ROME
“The Congressman refused to — excuse me, we’re going live to Allen Johnson, our senior correspondent in Rome, with breaking news. Allen?”
“Good morning, Tricia. We have some truly shocking news here from the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI has announced that he is resigning from the office. I have here a copy of the official announcement, courtesy of Vatican spokesman Father Gianni Meneghin —”
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“Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation takes effect today, leaving the Church in a position it hasn’t experienced since the 15th century. Over the next few days, we can expect to see the cardinals who aren’t based in Rome begin to arrive here ahead of the conclave. No date has been set for the conclave yet, but Church officials have made it clear they expect the new Pope to be elected and installed before Easter.”
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“And with the words “Extra omnes!” the doors were locked and the cardinal-electors are now faced with the task of choosing a new leader for more than a billion Catholics around the world. I’m told we can expect the first vote to take place today, but it would be truly astounding if we see the white smoke that signifies a new Pope has been elected by the required two-thirds majority.”
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Papabile: The Men Who Might Be Pope (EyeontheChurch.com)
15. Cardinal Pierre Dutremble (Archbishop of Montreal, Canada)
Born: June 19, 1952
Biography: Ordained 1978, appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Quebec City 1990, consecrated Bishop in 1993, appointed Bishop of Saguenay 1995, appointed Titular Bishop of Tabala and Under-Secretary of Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity 1998, consecrated Archbishop and appointed Latin Patriarch of Constantinople 2005, elevated to the College of Cardinals 2007, appointed Archbishop of Montreal 2011.
Pros: Diplomatic experience (prior to being named Archbishop of Montreal, Dutremble was the Latin Patriarch of Constantinople, Pope Benedict’s unofficial point-man for relations between the Catholic and Orthodox words), very much in the Ratzinger mold and a candidate of continuity.
Cons: Limited pastoral experience, seen by many as a younger carbon copy of Benedict, a strong supporter of the traditionalist Catholic sub-culture at odds with the modern Church.
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The Camerlengo read each ballot one by one.
Boston, Boston, Paris, Sri Lanka, Sao Paolo, Venice, Montreal —
The Cardinal started at hearing his own name spoken. Just once, but still… The weight of possibility crashed down upon him.
— Dallas, Tokyo, Sao Paolo, Montreal —
— Venice, Boston, Paris, Paris, Guadalajara…
On and on it went, a variety of names, most worthy and some… less so… at least in the Cardinal’s opinion.
And then it was done, for now. Nothing close to the needed two-thirds majority, although a few names stood out above the crowd.
One of them was his own.
The Cardinal couldn’t really believe it, didn’t want to believe it, prayed it was just a gesture of respect, knew it wasn’t. They were past that sort of thing at this level.
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It was the fifth ballot, and only three names remained. The other candidates, the dark horses and favorite sons, the long-shots, too young, too old, too this, too that, had been winnowed away, and in the end, as was usually the case, the chosen man received far more than the needed two-thirds majority.
The Cardinal almost had a stroke right then and there.
All eyes were on him. The Cardinal Dean asked the question protocol demanded. “Do you accept your canonical election as Supreme Pontiff?”
The world — or at least the rest of the cardinals — held their breath until he answered
“By what name do you wish to be called?”
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“Yes, it’s — we can see it clearly — white smoke, and I’m sure you can hear the reaction in the square, Tricia.”
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The Cardinal Deacon, a (relatively) young man from Mexico, stepped out onto the balcony overlooking the crowd that filled St. Peters’s square, and much of the area around it. Silence fell as the crowd, and the world, waited for the words.
“Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum! Habemus Papam! Eminentissimum ac reverendissimum Dominum, Dominum Petrus Sanctæ Romanæ Ecclesiæ Cardinalem Dutremble, qui sibi nomen imposuit Leo decimi quarti.”
The curtains that concealed the room behind the Deacon parted, and the Pontiff emerged.
Two hundred thousand souls looked up at him there, and millions more from all ends of the Earth.
The Pontiff’s vestments felt like they weighed a thousand pounds. He raised one hand and made the sign of the Cross, and before he could speak, someone down there cried out “LE-O! LE-O!”
The crowd took up the chant. “LE-O! LE-O! LE-O!”
Please Christ, give me strength…