Vatican City-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is already getting fed up with his colleagues in the College of Cardinals. "To all of my brother cardinals, I must say this: put a sock in it. Just SHUT UP!"
Cardinal Ratzinger is the dean of the College of Cardinals, and (at least for the time being) one of the most powerful men in the Catholic Church. He joined Pope John Paul as his doctrinal watchdog in 1981, when the Pope named him leader of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Ratzinger was born in Germany, and conversed with the Pope only in German. "That was considered ‘de rigeur' in Vatican City," said Ratzinger.
"In the good old days I would have been the head of the Inquisition," said Ratzinger.
"Did you ever see Python's take on the ‘Inquisition'? Jesus! The ‘comfy pillows!' Nearly soiled myself when I saw that the first time."
Cardinal Ratzinger's job of maintaining secrecy during the Conclave has been made much more complex by the countless advancements in communications technology that have occurred since Pope John Paul was elected at the last Conclave in 1978. "During the last Conclave all the information about the voting for the Pope went out over shortwave via Vatican Radio," said Ratzinger. "And the Conclave itself was totally secure in that nothing leaked out. Imagine, if you will, a huge meeting room containing a round table so big that it can seat over 100. Sight lines are good. Everyone can see everyone else.
"But we're all old, and can't hear one another very well, so there was lots of gesturing. All the Cardinals sit around and kind of just look at one another, constantly sitting up straight, adjusting their big red hats, and so forth.
"And little things mean a lot," said Ratzinger. "Turning a ring a little bit clockwise means one thing-a little counterclockwise means something else. How one had his hat adjusted. A little rakish turn to one side was considered cool-at least with other Cardinals. In fact there is some speculation to the effect that John Paul was selected because of that. His hat didn't fit well-it kept on sinking down on his head-and the constant readjustment got the attention of the other Cardinals."
"In this modern day and age I'm worried about the proliferation of cellular telephones," said Cardinal Ratzinger. "We do have bathroom breaks, after all. In fact-pretty frequent. Any one of the Cardinals could make a cell phone call from a stall. What will we be able to do about that?
"And even more worrisome is the appearance of 2-way pagers with instant messaging. Some of these Cardinals are known to carry them already.
"Blogging is a trend among Cardinals from the U.S.," said Ratzinger. "I just don't know what to do. I think I'm too old for all of this."