Papal ‘hesitation’ denied

Cardinals present at the conclave which elected Pope Francis have denied that the Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio hesitated in accepting the papacy.

Following a report in the Italian daily La Repubblica, penned by journalist Eugenio Scalfari, which states that Bergoglio accepted the conclaveís vote only after he had prayed and undergone a ìmystical experienceî in the Pauline Chapel, Fr Tom Rosica, who acted as assistant to the director of the Holy See Press Office during the conclave, issued a briefing note correcting "imprecise details" relating to the election on March 13, 2013.

"Cardinals who witnessed the events have categorically stated that the newly elected Pope never left the Sistine chapel for a period of reflection before finally accepting the papacy other than his entering the ëRoom of Tearsí for vesting," Fr Rosica explained. "There was never any indication of hesitation, a need for serious reflection on the election that had taken place, or rethinking what had befallen him."

While not challenging the "trustworthiness" of Scalfari, Fr Rosica pointed out that the interview conducted by the journalist with Pope Francis had not utilised recordings or written notes, and therefore the possibility of error around certain aspects and the sequence of events arose. The "text was an after-the-fact reconstruction", Fr Rosica said, acknowledging that the completed text had been offered to the Pontiff for approval, though it is not clear now  just how closely he read it.

On the issue of a 'mystical experience', Fr Rosica explained that while the Pope had prayed in the Pauline Chapel, this had taken place only after he had accepted the role of Supreme Pontiff, and therefore what experience he may have undergone had no bearing on his actions in ascending to the throne of St Peter.

Fr Rosica assured that further clarification on this latter incident would be forthcoming as Monsignor Dario Vigano, director of the Vatican's Television Centre, was present in the Pauline Chapel and has given an interview which aired on Canadian television this week.