Cardinal Mooney and the Conclave of 1958

Tuesday, March 12, AD 2013



Edward Cardinal Mooney added a bit of tragic drama to the Conclave of 1958.  Born in 1882 in Mount Savage, Maryland, the seventh child in his family,  he moved with them to Youngstown, Ohio at the age of 5.  His father was a tube mill worker and died in the early 1890’s.  His mother opened a small baking shop to support the family, and George and his brothers and sisters delivered the goods to customers.  He began his studies for the priesthood at Saint Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore and concluded them at the North American pontifical college.  Ordained in 1909, he taught dogmatic theology at Saint Mary’s Seminary in Cleveland until 1916.  He was the founding principal of the Cathedral Latin School in Cleveland from 1916-1922.

Made the spiritual director of the North American Pontifical College in Rome in 1923, he received the unique assignment of being the Apostolic Delegate to India and made a Titular Archbishop.  In India he helped found 15 missions and three parishes.  In 1931 he was made Apostolic Delegate to Japan.  In 1933 he was made fourth Bishop of Rochester with the personal title of Archbishop.  In 1937 he was named the first Archbishop of Detroit, receiving a Cardinal’s cap from Pope Pius XII in 1946.

Like most Catholic clergy of his generation, he was very pro-labor unions which stood him in good stead in the heavily unionized Detroit.  He immediately clashed heads with Father Charles Coughlin, the fiery controversial radio priest who operated from Royal Oak, Michigan.  The clashes continued until Father Coughlin agreed to end his radio program in 1942.

During World War II he was a strong supporter of the war effort viewing Nazi Germany as a mortal adversary of Christianity.

At the Conclave of 1958 he had a massive heart attack in Rome and died at age 70 just three hours before the Conclave began.  The more deranged sedevacantists claim that Mooney was murdered to help deny Cardinal Siri the papal throne, which is pure, unadulterated one hundred percent bunk.

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6 Responses to Cardinal Mooney and the Conclave of 1958

  • I wondered why there is a Catholic high school named for Cardinal Mooney in Youngstown, as Youngstown is a rather new diocese (formed, I believe, in the 1940s by Pope Pius XII during WWII, from the Cleveland diocese – and obviously does not have a cardinal as its bishop)

    Now I know. Thank you.

  • “The more deranged sedevacantists claim that Mooney was murdered to help deny Cardinal Siri the papal throne, which is pure, unadulterated one hundred percent bunk.”

    Let’s see, one faction of deranged “traditionalists” says that Cdl Siri was actually elected Pope Gregory XVII in 1958 and was persuaded to renounce. Which faction are we to believe? An illustration of how off the rails these groups can be.

    As far as the name Gregory XVII is concerned, I do hope the next pope takes that name…not that I am biased or anything.

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  • From 1944, Archbishop Roncalli, as he then was, served as nuncio in France, where he is still remembered with gratitude and affection for his work of reconciliation, both within the Church and between the Church and the wider society, in the aftermath of Vichy.

    The spiritual mission of the Church had been gravely hampered, during the previous 70 years by the open hostility of most Catholics to the Republic, which neatly matched the anti-clericalism of the bouffeurs de curé. Leo XIII had exhorted Catholic to “rally to the Republic,” explaining that a distinction must be drawn between the form of government, which ought to be accepted, and its laws which ought to be improved, only to be accused by the Catholic press of “kissing the feet of their executioners.” In 1940, alas, too many Catholics rallied, not to the Republic, but to Vichy.

    When he was appointed a Cardinal in 1953, he received the red biretta at the hands of the French President, Vincent Auriol, signalling a new relationship between the Church and the Republic.

  • Curious fact about the 1958 conclave. White smoke did come prematurely from the chimney prompting Vatican Radio to announce that “we have a pope” when, apparently we did not. Siri was the frontrunner, so to speak, among the papabile. I never heard anyone knowledgeable claim that he took the name Gregory or that he ever accepted the election if, indeed, he had received the quorum. Fact is he never spoke about a “non-acceptance”, nor could he have if such were the case. You can be fairly sure, however, that some cardinal would have leaked that info, if it were true. The white smoke is certainly strange. Hard to believe it was not deliberate. Then, shortly after, the smoke turned black. Vatican Radio had to take a culpa.

  • From this convert who once called Ytown home (and still loves the gritty city) … and who was beaten down mercifully by Mooney’s football team for 3 years, I appreciate the post. I’m often seen the pontificate of JXXIII as a solid sign that the Holy Spirit can take the votes of cardinals and turn them into gold.

The Conclave; A Glimpse Into Heaven

Monday, March 11, AD 2013

Cardinals speak of feeling as if the weight of the world is on their shoulders. While we watch the awe and majesty of a Conclave to pick the next pontiff, the Princes of the Church speak of it with trepidation, some with fear. The 115 cardinals who will pick the next pontiff rightfully feel their solemn responsibility. The Church’s greatest task is to save souls and the man who will figuratively grasp the keys given to St Peter by Jesus assumes an awesome responsibility.

The procession from St Peter’s to the Sistine Chapel may be one of the most moving and beautiful events a believer (and even a non-believer) may ever witness. As the Litany of the Saints is chanted the cardinals process into the Sistine Chapel, pulling themselves away from the outside world to pray and vote for the Successor of St. Peter. For the truly faithful, the days of the Conclave are often one of the rare moments in the public life of the Church where the mainstream media isn’t dictating who the cardinals should pick and why the Church’s Teachings need to be changed. Now some will attempt to do just that, but it often comes across as shallow and shrill due to the solemnity of the moment.

Monday on ABC’s World News Tonight, Diane Sawyer interviewed South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier. His Eminence, who was present at the last Conclave, was asked what it was like picking the future pontiff. The Cardinal from Durban spoke of looking at Michelangelo’s Last Judgment painted above him in the Sistine Chapel, and pleading for Jesus to help him make the right decision.

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Films While Waiting for the White Smoke

Sunday, March 3, AD 2013

This is a joint post with commenter Dr. Peter Dans.  Pete has written a fine book which I will be reviewing, Christians in the Movies, A Century of Saints and Sinners, and he has given suggestions about films to watch while we are waiting to shout Habemus Papam.  Here are the films in Chronological order of the Pope depicted:

1.  Quo Vadis (1951)-The historical spectacle film to end historical spectacle films, it brings to the screen the novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz of the persecution of Christians under Nero.  The film is a great work of Art with inspired performances by Peter Ustinov as Nero, Robert Taylor as the tough Roman legate Marcus Vinicius who finds himself, very much against his will, becoming a Christian from his love of the Christian Lygia, portrayed by Deborah Kerr, and Leo Genn, as Petronius, the uncle of Vinicius and Nero’s “arbiter of taste”, who wounds Nero to the core with the following suicide note:

To Nero, Emperor of Rome, Master of the World, Divine Pontiff. I know that my death will be a disappointment to you, since you wished to render me this service yourself. To be born in your reign is a miscalculation; but to die in it is a joy. I can forgive you for murdering your wife and your mother, for burning our beloved Rome, for befouling our fair country with the stench of your crimes. But one thing I cannot forgive – the boredom of having to listen to your verses, your second-rate songs, your mediocre performances. Adhere to your special gifts, Nero – murder and arson, betrayal and terror. Mutilate your subjects if you must; but with my last breath I beg you – do not mutilate the arts. Fare well, but compose no more music. Brutalize the people, but do not bore them, as you have bored to death your friend, the late Gaius Petronius.

Peter in the movie is portrayed by Finlay Currie.  Here is the classic scene from the film that depicts Peter informed by Christ that He is going to Rome to be crucified a second time:

In the film he goes to the arena where the Christians are being murdered for the amusement of the crowds and cries out, “Here where Nero rules today, Christ shall rule forever!”  The film movingly depicts Peter’s martyrdom, crucified upside down since he had stated that he was not worthy to have the same death as Christ.

2.  Sign of the Pagan (1954) -Jack Palance, a great actor who was consistently underrated throughout his career, portrays Attila the Hun. Here we have depicted the meeting between Attila and Pope Leo the Great, portrayed by Leo Moroni, which convinces Attila to spare Rome.

3.  Becket (1964)-A masterful, albeit heavily fictionalized retelling of the life of the “holy, blessed, martyr”.  Here we have Archbishop Becket, Richard Burton,  in exile having an interview with Pope Alexander III, Paolo Stoppa:

4.  Francis of Assisi (1961)-A film biography of Saint Francis, ably acted by Bradford Dillman.  Go here to see the depiction of the interview between Saint Francis and Pope Innocent III,  the role assayed by Finlay Currie who was Peter in Quo Vadis.   Dolores Hart had the role of Saint Clare in the film.  She went on to become a nun.  Pete has some information in regard to that:

It has the extra added attraction of an interesting  backstory involving Dolores Hart, the actress who played Clare and  later became a nun.  She is now the Prioress of Regina Laudis Abbey  which itself has an interesting backstory connecting back to the 1949  film Come to the Stable.

By the way, I sent her a copy of the book and she sent me a  delightful note in 2009 saying that the documentation of the abbey’s  founding and her journey was “absolutely on target” and that it made her  want to read the whole book. Then she added “Said like a real actress.”  I  was especially touched when she said that she would keep me in her “heart and  prayers.”  I’m sure that has been a big help to me along the  way.

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7 Responses to Films While Waiting for the White Smoke

  • Thanks for finding that Leo and Attila scene; I didn’t know anything about it!

    May I commend you, also, for including Anno Domini in your dates; but will you forgive me if I suggest you put Anno Domini first? If you think about it in English, “In the year of our Lord 2013” makes more sense than “2013 in the year of our Lord.”

    Best wishes!

  • The amusing bit is that Msgr. O’Flaherty is basically “that Resistance guy that all the other Resistance guys were afraid to let in their group,” because he was so flamboyant. So the total for his group was pretty good, but the main smuggling groups (pretty much every parish and convent, coordinated by the Pope and select members of the Curia) smuggled out and hid tons more. O’Flaherty ended up being cover for everybody else, because everything got blamed on him!

    But it’s actually a good idea for not all Resistance groups to be coordinated, because if somebody important gets captured, not all the groups will be set in disarray or rolled up by the enemy.

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  • Wow! This is a very good list. Thank you for sharing this. My personal favorite is “Have No Fear: The Life of Pope John Paul II”. It was very inspiring and I also picked up a lot of life lessons in it.

  • Another goo portrayal of John XXIII is The Good Pope:

    It has a much different (and more accurate?) version of the rescue of Jewish children in Turkey from the one in A Man Whose Name Was John.

  • “A Man for all Seasons”. I don’t think it depicts a Pope, but the story of St. Thomas More is relevant now. Just any excuse to tell people to watch “AMfaS”.

  • It would be in the top five of my favorite movies Claire, and if it had an appearance by a pope it would have made this list a round ten. My favorite scene:

6 Responses to Choose Your Pope!

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  • No man can follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ perfectly, except through the Holy Spirit, in Persona Christi, and the ordination and consecration of the Sacraments of Christ’s Catholic Church. When I see the words Sede Vacante, I see the devil’s advocate.

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  • In less than three minutes, that video pretty much says it all.

  • Almost-complete transcript for those who (like myself) couldn’t make out what the strangeless affectless chirpy female was saying:

    A recent college graduate, Kelly earned a BA in Advanced Feng-Shui Marketing. A self-described way-devoted super-Catholic, Kelly has attended mass almost seven times: therefore, making her opinions on the theological direction of the Catholic Church entirely valid and perfectly worthy of public attention.

    “Question #1: Since I have absolutely no interest in knowing the scriptural and historical reasons for the male only priesthood, and since my Religious Worldviews in the Feminist Paradigm professor told me that, like, five of the apostles were totally women, I think the Catholic Church is finally ready for women priests. You guys agree, right?

    Oulette: “No.”
    Turkson: “No.”
    Scola: “No.”

    Kelly: “Whatever.”

    “Question #2: Like most devout Catholic women who don’t go to Mass and don’t believe anything the Church says, I use birth control because babies are a lot of work and my boyfriend and I totally need to re-tile our master bathroom. That’s cool with you guys, right?”

    Oulette: “No.”
    Turkson: “No.”
    Scola: “No.”

    Kelly: “You guys are lame.”

    “Question #3: I like the aesthetics of the Catholic Church but don’t like its theology. I support no-fault divorce, abortion rights, gay marriage, gender-neutral language, and think that it’s mean to criticize Islam. I couldn’t be more of a liberal episcopalian if Katherine Jefferts-Schori formed me from the dust from the ground, and yet I still inexplicably identify myself as a Catholic.”

    Cardinal Ouellet: “Is there a question coming any time soon?”

    Kelly: “Unless you want to be elected bishop of mysogyny, don’t interrupt me! My question is this: even though my utter indifference towards the church [Episcopal] that perfectly represents my theology clearly reveals that there’s no way that I’ll ever come back to the Catholic faith, you guys will still cast aside your vows to be faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church unto death, and reject 2000 years of tradition in a pathetic attempt to woo me, right?

    Oulette: “No.”
    Turkson: “No.”
    Scola: “No.”

    [Dialog too hard ot make out despite repeated tries. The gal’s vocal pitch is out of my auditory range. Sorry.]

    “Question #4: My favourite TV show is “Glee”…

    Cardinal Ouellet: “Oh, sweet mercy, no!”
    Cardinal Turkson: “Stop!”
    Cardinal Scola: “Please shut your mouth before the Angel of Death destroys us all!”

  • very good and original.


Wikileaks: US Never Expected Ratzinger Elected as Pope

Tuesday, November 30, AD 2010

[Updated Below]

Wikileaks information has been disclosed by Rome Reports that the U.S. intelligence services were completely caught off guard and surprised at the election of then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.

[Found another YouTube video that works]

Updated as of 10:40am Central time, 11-30-2010 AD:

U.S. intelligence was expecting a Latin American as the next pope, and predicted that then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger would have lost in the first round voting.

The rest from Father Zuhlsdorf:

Before the election the staff of the US embassy to the Holy See sent speculations to Washington about the one to be elected.

“The first factor will be age, the cardinals will seek someone who is neither too young nor too old, because they don’t want to have another funeral and conclave quickly” but “they also want to avoid having a long pontificate like that of John Paul II.”  Furthermore, “it will be a person in reasonably good health”.  Another element will be “linguistic ability” and he will have to know Italian.

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16 Responses to Wikileaks: US Never Expected Ratzinger Elected as Pope

  • I wonder who they did expect.

  • One good thing about Wikileaks: It will demonstrate the incoherency (faintly perceptible in Fr. Z’s remarks) of those who are rightfully critical of domestic bureaucracies but who still seem to believe that the State Department and/or the Pentagon could be any less bureucratic or incompetent. Fr. Z seems almost *surprised* at the incompetency of the intelligence. But the State Department and Military *are* largely incompetent. They are no different from the post office or the DMV, just more dangerous.

  • But the State Department and Military *are* largely incompetent. They are no different from the post office or the DMV, just more dangerous.

    Largely ‘incompetant’ by whose standards at what? Dangerous to whom? You can compare the Postal Service to UPS and FedEx as a standard of performance. To what are you comparing the United States Military?

  • “Incompetent”: OED 2.a: “Of inadequate ability or fitness; not having the requisite capacity or qualification; incapable. Const. to, to do something.”

    The concept does not require a comparison with another entity to be made intellegible. What are the final ends or goals of the State Department and of the Pentagon? Do the actions of these entities achieve these ends or fail to?

  • Well, Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo (Pontifical Council for the Family) had been on my short list. I suppose it was good that he was not elected because he died three years later (at the young age of 72).

  • What are the final ends or goals of the State Department and of the Pentagon? Do the actions of these entities achieve these ends or fail to?

    You never defined any goals, nor offered a concept of what counts as an achievable goal. (And no, the question of who can do the U.S. Military’s job better than the U.S. Military is not irrelevant to your remarks).

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  • EXCEPT it was not that much of a SHOCK. See my post “Contrary To Wikileaks Reports U.S Government Had Strong Indications Ratzinger Would Be Pope ”

  • Looks like the Internet police have struck.

  • Art Deco,

    What are the end goals of *any* State Department and Military?

  • It is curious that our government would find the election of the Pope curious. Do they also do intelligence on the elections of the Archbisop of Cantebury?

  • Popes matter globally, unlike the Archbishops of Canterbury who do not even matter in the UK.

    I would take these wikileaks with a large boulder of salt. One of the curses of government is the huge amount of useless paper generated. Intelligence agencies are especially prone to this type of bloat, and often the opinions aren’t any better than you could find on blogs, except that the taxpayers pay us zip for doing this. However, if the CIA is ever eager to have a Catholic blog all its own… 🙂

  • What are the end goals of *any* State Department and Military?

    Costa Rica’s or ours?

  • “On the day of the election itself, there was a cable to Washington which pooh-poohed the possible election of Ratzinger. Apparently the election shocked them.”

    I wonder what President Bush’s reaction was? As I’ve noted before, on the very day, and at the very hour, Pope Benedict’s election was announced, Bush was in Springfield for the dedication of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. I remember hearing both events reported live on my car radio while driving between newspaper assignments….

    Also, isn’t there a rumor, persistent allegation, or whatever to the effect that when Pope Paul VI was elected in 1963, Cardinal Spellman secretly transmitted the result to a CIA operative in Rome with some kind of hidden two-way radio? Not saying it’s true but I just wonder if anyone else has heard this. If true (and that’s a HUGE “if”) then it would seem to indicate that the CIA cultivated some, shall we say, much more reliable contacts within the Vatican in those days.

  • Meanwhile, via Catholic Vote/American Papist, we learn that more than 800 of the Wikileaks documents still slated for publication involve communications with the Vatican:

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