Chartres 2006
Photo Story

Remnant Tours

Click Here to visit
THE REMNANT Scrapbook!


See Remnant

Remnant Rome Reports
Michael J. Matt Conclave 2013
The Remnant. Editor  

The Sistine Awaits
by Michael J. Matt

(ROME) Like the song says—no, there’s really not much news to tell you. The conclave is all set. Tomorrow is the big day. Solemn Mass will be offered at 10 am in St Peter’s by the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Cardinal Sodano.

In the press briefing today, Father Lombardi said it would be a “Latin Mass” accompanied by the music of Palestrina. He indicated also that it would be no longer than 2 hours in duration.

The cardinals will enter the Sistine Chapel at 4:30, and there will be a vote. However, Father Lombardi suggested that we should expect black smoke tomorrow.

So, here in Rome it is time to wait and pray that Christ our King will lead the princes of the Church and that Mary Our Queen will intervene on behalf of the most faithful prince of the Church, a man who will have the grace and the courage to do what must be done: clean out the stables, exorcise the devils, banish the wolves, and restore holiness to the See of Peter.

Veni Creator Spiritus!

Sunday Update

Trusting Cardinals and Predicting Popes

By Michael J. Matt

(ROME) This morning I went to Mass in St. Peter’s. We’ve been hearing rumors for years that indeed the Traditional Latin Mass is no longer difficult to find on any one of its numerous altars, and even every day; but, naturally, I was eager to confirm this for myself.

I wasn’t inside for more than a moment when I discovered a traditional Mass that had just begun at the prominent Altar of the Transfiguration, wherein rest the mortal remains of Pope Innocent XI. 

I knelt down and heard Mass, which the celebrant offered to perfection. After Mass I chatted with him for a moment.  He was filling in for the regular celebrant, but is a diocesan priest from Peoria, Msgr. Soseman, who (I later learned) enjoys a reputation as a learned and holy priest here in Rome.  He couldn’t have been more congenial. Yes, he confirmed, the Traditional Latin Mass is indeed being celebrated every day in the Basilica of St Peter. Who would ever have imagined such a thing! Thank you, Pope Benedict.


Trusting Cardinals

On Tuesday the conclave will begin with an hour-long procession of cardinals from the Pauline Chapel into the Sistine Chapel, beginning at 4:30.  No cameras will be allowed once the doors of the Sistine are closed.

Since that is the case, Marco Bruno of the Vatican Press Office was kind enough to lead a handful of journalists into the Sistine Chapel for a final media viewing before it is sealed (See above photo).  I was fortunate enough to be included in that company.  We were able to observe firsthand the preparations for the momentous event. It was indeed a privilege and it would be difficult to exaggerate our appreciation for the kindness of everyone at the Sala Stampa, who, obviously, have a massive job on their hands with over 5,000 members of the press here in Rome. Video of our visit to the Sistine is available at

One of the things that struck me while inside the Sistine was the evidence of so many precautions being taken to prevent breaches of secrecy at the conclave, which of course would also involve the breaking of a solemn oath.  No effort is being spared to prevent cardinal electors from having any opportunity to tweet or text hints about the proceedings of the conclave.  In fact, the Sistine Chapel was being outfitted with devises designed to cut off cell and internet signals completely.

We’d noticed the same thing in the Holy See’s media center, which was on virtual Internet lockdown so as to prevent any cardinal from communicating to the outside during the congregation meetings last week, especially to members of his own country’s media which would have the potential to propel a given cardinal into a media-driven campaign to become “nominee”, so to speak.

It’s astonishing to think that we’ve evidently arrived at the point now where some princes of the Catholic Church cannot necessarily be trusted even to keep their word on a matter as serious as a papal conclave.  Is this, I wondered, the very tiny tip of the iceberg which gives us perhaps some inkling of what Pope Benedict himself was up against in the months and years leading up to his decision to abdicate? After all, wolves can't be trusted under any circumstances.


Why Did Benedict Abdicate?

Perhaps Benedict decided that the good of Church obliges an aging Pope to abdicate before his mental faculties begin to fail, especially  when surrounded by men who cannot be trusted even to keep their word.  Given all we know about one or two of them maybe he had a point in this case.  It’s no secret that Pope John Paul, for example,  “did” and “said” all sorts of bizarre things at the end of his reign that were less than good for the life of the Church.  The so-called “new Rosary” comes to mind.

True, Benedict should have done more to root out the worst of the troublemakers, but how can anyone ever know what in fact he did or didn’t do and to what extent he was blocked from doing more. His power may indeed have ended at the door of his office.  

God help the next pope, whoever he is.

Reelect Benedict?

When it comes to Benedict’s abdication, strong expressions of disappointment among faithful Catholics here in Rome are not hard to find. Street vendors, Mass goers, priests, even great admirers of the Holy Father will readily speak of their frustration over the decision.

Even among some of the progressives there’s a sense that their parade was just rained out. After all, during Pope John Paul’s last years, when he was really failing, it must have been great fun being part of the “Pope by Committee”.  

In any case, Cardinal Sodano evidently intends to implement a law that will require future popes to swear an oath against abdicating.  Whatever his reasons, on the surface at least, this seems like a good idea. The last thing the Church needs as a rule are mere temporary occupants of the Chair of Peter, coming and going on a whim.  

Benedict’s abdication is not popular in any camp, save perhaps the rabid liberals, fruits and flakes (but who cares about that). In fact, there’s an odd little rumor being bandied about which, while preposterous, doesn’t seem to want to go away.  Supposedly there are some cardinals who would even try to reelect Benedict. While unthinkable, it speaks to the level of respect Benedict still enjoys among serious churchmen that even still he is regarded as best qualified to fix this colossal Vatican quagmire.


Speaking of that quagmire, the three cardinals commissioned by Pope Benedict to investigate the documents leak from the Pope’s own desk last year (which resulted in the so-called “Vatileaks” scandal) – Cardinals Julian Herranz, Jozef Tomko and Salvatore de Giorgi—are in a position to become the Big Three in all the deliberations leading up to the conclave, at least when it comes to who will absolutely not be the next pope.  Since they know better than anyone who is most unworthy to ascend to the chair of St. Peter,  they presumably have become a force with which to be reckoned in all the pre-conclave meetings, private or otherwise. After all, they uncovered enough evidence of corruption and abuse of power and money to fill a 300-page dossier, which Benedict ordered sealed and presented to the next pope. 

So, this is far from over, and Benedict may yet prove to have been instrumental in cleaning out those stables.   His three confidants and their dossier will most surely impact the conclave, just as they will provide for the next pope to be “armed and dangerous” where the worst of the worst are concerned. Thanks to this dossier, the next pope will have the goods on everyone involved, which is another reason to thank God for the butler, Paolo Gabriele.

Gabriele is the man chiefly responsible for the Vatileaks in the first place; and he’s insisted that he leaked the information solely for the purposes of protecting the Pope whom he loved very much. He is a family man and by all accounts a good and faithful Catholic. He received not one thin euro for the leak and ended up in prison for his trouble. 

That Pope Benedict promptly pardoned him at least suggests His Holiness understood and accepts that the butler was only trying to help expose the wolves Benedict himself had asked the world to pray against at the very beginning of his pontificate.

Who’s the Next Pope?

One name that keeps popping up is Angelo Cardinal Scola, Patriarch of Venice. Leaving aside whatever negatives he may have on his resume, one thing is certain: Cardinal Scola is not unfavorable to the Traditional Latin Mass.  Traditionalists here in Rome are thus adamant that the Church could do worse, and that we would have every reason to hope for the best, at least where Benedict’s liturgical restoration projects are concerned.  It’s a name to add to the prayer list, anyway, and an Italian one at that.

I leave you with this image of the incorrupt St. Pope Pius X which I took yesterday in St. Peter’s. May he intercede on behalf of the Church he served so well but which is now undergoing an ignominious passion not unlike that of her Divine Spouse as He ascended the hill of Calvary.

Veni Creator Spiritus



A Beautiful Reminder

By Michael J. Matt

(ROME) On a cold and rainy night here in Rome a fairly sizable gathering of Catholics gathered in the Piazza San Pietro to pray the rosary (in Latin). Led by five or six young priests in cassocks, they knelt on the wet stones of the Piazza and begged Mary's intercession, with a final prayer to St Joseph (this time in Italian). As I was walking back to my hotel when I discovered them kneeling there in the light rain, I filmed them for a moment and then joined them. After all, I suppose that’s exactly where we all need to be during this dark night for the Church...on our knees, praying for the beloved Bride of Christ.

As these Italian Catholics prayed, two white birds appeared out of the night sky and circled overhead for a few moments in stark contrast to the gloomy mist. I only noticed them because some tourists standing nearby began pointing up and exclaiming.  Probably means nothing...but maybe not. You never know about these things, especially in this town full of relics and the bones of saints.

Tomorrow at 7 am I will be inside St. Peter’s for the Traditional Latin Mass, which happens every day now thanks to Pope Benedict’s motu proprio.  Over at The Remnant’s Facebook page  some video we shot is available of the beautiful moment tonight in the Piazza, as well as a clip of two young college students we interviewed today who rather excitedly reported how they’ve discovered dozens of traditional Latin Masses going on in Rome since they’ve been studying over here…including, astonishingly enough, as many as 7 traditional Masses at one time taking place on side altars on a daily basis inside the Basilica of St. Peter itself.

I’m having a difficult time finding reasons not to be even more grateful to Pope Benedict for so much of what he attempted to do. Despite our differences of opinion, I fear we will soon begin to miss him perhaps more than we ever thought we would.

Conclave Start Date: Tuesday, March 12. Come Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of the Princes of the Church.


Friday Update

Good News and Bad, Cardinal Tweets a Hint

by Michael J. Matt

(ROME) This afternoon the cardinals will be taking a vote on the date for the conclave to begin. Shortly after 7 this evening the announcement will be made.  151 cardinals were present last night, and the final cardinal has taken the oath, Cardinal Joseph Maida of Detroit, though he is not an elector.

153 cardinals gathered this morning, and the college accepted two cardinals’ reasons for being absent from these proceedings, one for health reasons and the other, Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Scotland, for “personal reasons”. Therefore the college officially consists of 115 electors.

Here’s the bad news: Father Lombardi shared his opinion that the conclave would not start over the weekend, and that it could be as late as Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.

Tweeting American

There’s good reason for the lack of cell signal and Wi-Fi here in the Holy See’s Media Center at the Paul VI Audience Hall:  The cardinals are holding their secret congregations just upstairs from the media center.  Since the same building is being used both for the pre-conclave meetings and the press conferences, the secrecy and integrity of the process depends on two things: Compliance with the rules and tight internet restrictions here in the Audience Hall, especially where Wi-Fi is concerned.

Apparently this precaution is necessary, since one of the cardinals, Roger Mahony, couldn’t resist the urge to tweet hints about the start date to his fans back home.  Another proud moment for America here in the Eternal City.

Women’s Day

Perhaps in an effort to do “damage control” with the PC police after having shown images of ladies sewing table cloths and wall coverings inside the Sistine Chapel in preparation for the conclave two days ago, Father Lombardi acknowledged International Women’s Day today by bringing flowers to the press conference and presenting them to a lady of the press.  He said he was very happy to recognize the women working in the various offices in the Vatican, and received a smattering of applause for the effort. Make of that what you will.  But it crossed my mind to wonder if there was a bit of fallout after a female reported from the States asked a rather pointed question yesterday about the lack of women in positions of influence here in the Vatican.

Of course, they're dealing with vipers but our poor suffering Church really must stop, it seems to me, trying to placate the implacable.

On Sunday the cardinals will go to their titular churches here in Rome to pray and celebrate Mass for the intentions of the conclave  and the new pope.

One final point of interest, the Sala Santa Marta will be used by the cardinals during the conclave, and the Vatican has prepared a special apartment for the new pope, where he will reside for a few weeks after he is elected.  This is due to the fact that the papal apartment is sealed, and they’re also making some minor renovations inside the papal palace.

Thursday Update

No Date, Benedict’s Seal Broken, Vatileaks     

Our apologies for not posting more video coverage of these events as promised.  The problem is the Internet connections in the Eternal City are eternally slow.  Wi-Fi is either severely limited or nonexistent, the latter being the case even here in the media center at the Paul VI Audience Hall.  And no cell phone coverage, either.

I’m all for a technological blackout, mind you, even if our work here is made that much more challenging. Do we really need our papal conclaves to receive accolades from the media for their transparency?

In the meantime please visit our Facebook page where we are able to upload short clips.  Today, for example, we got up close (if not personal) with Cardinal Walter Kasper, of all people:

Conclave News

No date was set.  The fifth congregation (meetings of the cardinals during the pre-conclave stage) began in the morning with prayer and ended just after the noon hour.   152 cardinals were present, 114 of which are eligible electors.  Two more cardinals arrived today, one, the cardinal from Warsaw, is an elector and took the required oath upon his arrival. The final cardinal elector Jean-Baptiste Cardinal Pham Minh Mânfrom of Vietnam had just arrived at the airport at the time of the press conference. So, the required personnel, if you will, are all here at last.

Hugo Chavez Remembered?

One rather perplexing question raised at today’s congregation was whether or not the College of Cardinals would be sending a letter of condolences to the government of Venezuela at the death of Hugo Chavez.  Well, the answer (if anyone wants to know) was yes, the College would indeed, and Cardinal Angelo Sodano personally drafted the letter in the name of the College.  So, at least that’s done.

The Actual Workings of the Pre-Conclave

The cardinals are spending every day here this week in pre-conclave discussions. There are no thematic guidelines set for these discussions, and they can include any number of issues affecting the Church in various countries (from persecution of Christians to poverty to ecumenism), which are cited in relation to the qualities and experience required of the man who will soon have to address these issues as pope.

The Cardinals chosen to speak at these daily discussions represent a wide cultural and geographical demographic which is supposed to help the rest of the cardinals determine where the Church’s greatest needs are and what kind of man is best suited for the challenge. 

If this all seems somewhat pedantic it is nothing new, and actually makes sense.  It’s just that before the last conclave in 2005 the Church was in mourning, the late Holy Father lay in state inside St Peter’s, the nine Masses for the departed Pontiff were being celebrated, etc.—all this while these same pre-conclave meetings and discussions were going on among the cardinals.  So this is indeed part of the conclave process.

None of that this time around, since abdication presents a whole different set of challenges.  So the darkening of the windows in the Sistine Chapel, for example, to prevent anyone from catching a glimpse at the goings on inside becomes newsworthy as the hungry media wait for scraps.  They stood back somewhat awkwardly as the cardinals met last night not to hold a press conference but rather for the purpose of praying of the Rosary in the basilica and holding Eucharistic adoration near the tomb of St. Peter to ask God’s help in this great task.  It was really quite moving, but what’s a secular journalist to do with that?   

Papal Seal Swept Away

The seal of Pope Benedict XVI was chopped up and removed from the Vatican gardens today, thus offering a symbolic reminder that the old Pope is no more and a place must now be prepared for a new one.

Question from the Press at Today’s Press Conference:

1)     How is secrecy during the conclave guaranteed?  It isn’t guaranteed. However, the process relies on the Apostolic Constitution of the Church and the good reason and faith of the cardinal electors not to reveal anything about the process or the final selection before the official announcement. If a cardinal were to break his oath he would not be excommunicated whereas anyone else guilty of leaking information would be automatically excommunicated.

2)      Will the cardinals continue through the weekend if no date has been set by Friday?  Yes, although not on Sunday since, as Fr. Lombardi remarked, “Sunday is the day of rest when the cardinals will be celebrating their Masses.”

3)     Are there any women involved in the conclave, other than those doing the sewing of wall hangings and table cloths inside the Sistine? (Asked rather snidely by a woman reporter)  “There could be other women involved in working with the cardinals and serving on their staff in some way.  A way to determine this is to see who is present when the Cardinal takes the oath.” In other words, no!  Next question.

4)      Are the Vatileaks under discussion at the pre-conclave meetings?  “Our role at these briefing,” said Lombardi, “is to present the general themes that are discussed in the congregation meetings.  What do we say about Vatileaks and other things appearing in the Italian press?  Nothing, however the cardinals can speak about anything they wish during their discussions with one another.”

5)      What are the levels of secrecy for the conclave? Three oaths come into play. One is taken by all cardinals before entering the conclave. Another is taken later, and has to do with not revealing anything coming from the congregation meetings themselves. And finally one more oath is sometimes imposed at the digression of the cardinals—as, for example, in 2005 when the cardinals swore that after a certain date they would no longer give interviews to the press.  All of these oaths are sworn on a Bible.

6)      A New York Times reporter asked why it takes so long to set the date.   Father Lombardi explained that the purpose of these pre-conclave meetings is to expedite a very important process in the life of the Church—the selection of a new pope.  At the conclave itself, there will be two votes in the morning and two votes in the afternoon. By then there will be no time for discussion.  That discussion has to happen beforehand—now, in these congregations—since the conclave itself is a time of deep prayer and reflection for each cardinal.  “Because of the seriousness of this decision—to elect the Successor of St. Peter—it is only wise for the cardinals to use this time before the conclave to the best of their abilities to discuss and reflect, and when that reflection has matured the cardinals will then go to the Sistine chapel and elect the new pope.”

My Thoughts

It’s difficult to conjecture with any degree of certainty about this or that conspiracy theory that may or may not be influencing the decision as to when this conclave will begin.  My opinion is that the entire Catholic world—laymen priests, bishops and cardinals right up to the Curia itself—were taken by surprise by Benedict’s stunning announcement of abdication.  This conclave is thus struggling to get off the ground a bit.

Honestly, here in Rome one gets the impression that the slight delay has much more to do with coordinating all these men and their schedules, as well as addressing procedural issues, than with any sinister conspiracy.  This is Italy, after all, where even the trains don’t usually start on time.   

It seems best to pray for a good outcome and leave the conspiracy theorizing for another day, hoping all the while that the old adage holds true: Good things come to those who wait.

Veni Creator Spiritus!

Wednesday Update, March 5

No Date, Sistine Chapel Being Prepped

by Michael J. Matt

(ROME) At the main press conference today here in the Vatican, the only news was that there isn't any.  Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press office, announced simply that no date has been set for the conclave to begin.  There are two cardinals yet to arrive, apparently, but all indications are that they will be here tomorrow come hell or high water.   There was a groan throughout the media center (in the Paul VI Audience Hall) at this announcement of no date, as the press is getting as anxious as everyone else to get this "show on the road". 

In lieu of the much anticipated announcement of a start date, however, Fr. Lombardi did explain various aspects of the prep work going on right now behind closed doors.  The construction of the elevation platform, for example, where the cardinals will gather, has indeed begun;  evidently there are not one but two stoves to be used to create the smoke over the Sistine Chapel--one for the burning of the actual ballots that the cardinals will cast and the other that will burn chemicals to produce the requisite white or black smoke; and then the amusing but less than fascinating factoid that some very nice Italian ladies are  even now sewing feverishly  away on the wall hangings that will conceal the glories of the Sistine throughout the conclave. Here you can see a few shots of the press center including some video feed of those very same Italian ladies—sewing away while the world press looks on.  Kind of cute but obviously a pretty slow news day.  

Ladies sewing isn’t exactly what the world is waiting for but as there’s just not much hard news to report until this conclave begins, it’s the best we’ve got, and neither Father Lombardi nor anyone else can change that—which, by the way,  does make this massive gathering of the waiting  world media seem somewhat comical. The selection of the Catholic pope is causing everyone—even ABC, CNN, et al --to patiently wait, hat in hand, for the princes of the Church to go about God’s business.   Who says the Catholic Church doesn’t matter anymore… or that it’s just one religion among many.  Yeah, right!

Perhaps tomorrow will be the day.  Please God, and Come Holy Ghost!   MJM

Tuesday Update:

Get Out Those Beads

by Michael Matt

(ROME)The “buzz” here in Rome is less than encouraging.  There’s a lot of it, and it’s generally about the pressing need for a “pastoral” pope (read “politician”) who will discover new ways  to “share the gospel” (read: who won’t offend anyone) who can reach out to our non-Catholic brothers and sisters in a more meaningful way (read: who will put ecumenism at the top of his to do list) who understands the pressing need to elevate the “role of women and minorities” in the Church (read: who’s a raving liberal) and who can tackle the tough issues facing the Church, such as what to do about divorced and remarried Catholics who want to receive the sacraments (read: who thinks the time has come to “update” Catholic moral theology).  It’s just “buzz” of course, but I for one would feel a lot better if there was less talk about all that and a bit more about the desperate need for the Church to abandon novelty at every level and restore her own Catholic identity, beginning with a complete liturgical overhaul.  Not much talk, by the way, about Cardinal Ranjith or even Cardinal Burke.  One thing’s certain, those who didn’t like Pope Benedict because he wasn’t traditional enough may soon be longing for the good old days of Papa Ratzinger… before Pope Ravasi or Pope Schonborn reversed eight years of Pope Benedict's liturgical reforms.  This will be the first pope, let’s not forget, who will have virtually no priestly experience from back in the preconciliar Church. In other words, this one may not even remember the good old days…much less long for their return.  The Holy Ghost has surprised the conclaves of the past many times, however, so let’s not lose hope. But heaven's sake, let's get out those beads and pray.

Remnant goes to Rome

With the secular media now having tasted blood, prompting a feeding frenzy against the Catholic Church that includes 24/7 demands that the conclave acknowledge the need for a young, liberal pope to succeed the stodgy old conservative, Benedict XVI—one who will lift the ban on women priests, gay marriage, contraception, etc.,—we have decided to go to Rome to do everything humanly possible to elevate the traditionalist influence in defense of sanity during the conclave. We will be posting updates here as well as commentary on Remnant TV (see YouTube’s TheRemnantvideo channel) and Facebook


We will be in Rome beginning Monday March 4.

  HOME    |    PRINT SUBSCRIBE    |    E-EDITION    |    ADVERTISE    |    NEWS    |    ARTICLES   |    RESOURCES    |    ABOUT    |    CONTACT
Web Format and Content   ©  1996-2010 Remnant Press