The Francis Effect, Ten Years On
Exactly ten years ago this morning to the very hour (given the time difference), I was working on an article about the 2013 conclave for this site in the lobby of the Atlante Star Hotel in Rome. So, I remember the exact moment when the big flat-screen television there showed the white smoke coming from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel – and the hotel staff began shouting, “É l’americano!” They were wrong. It wasn’t – as they expected – NY’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, whose large personality had been making a big impression in Italian media.
People began running to St. Peter’s Square. Me included. I wanted to see with my own eyes a rare event like that before going to the rooftop studio to do my duty as part of the EWTN “Conclave Crew” (precursor to the Papal Posse). St. Peter’s is one of the largest squares in Europe, but it filled up almost instantly. It was raining and noisy and almost impossible to see the loggia of the basilica through the forest of cell phones and iPads people held up as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, stepped out.