Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally


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Pope draws in three million people to celebrate Mass on Copacabana Beach

Pope Francis celebrates Mass in front of 3 million pilgrims on Copacabana Beach

Pope Francis celebrates Mass in front of 3 million pilgrims on Copacabana Beach

As Europe turns it’s back on religion the rest of the world are looking in the other direction.

Pope Francis I completed a week of events in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the Roman Catholic Church’s World Youth Day with a celebration of Mass on Rio’s famous Copacabana Beach. Three million people attended.

Rock stars and even the President of the USA could only dream of such adoring supporters at their concerts and rallies.

Pope Francis on flight back from Brazil_29_7_13

Pope Francis answering questions from journalists on papal flight back to Rome

Pope Francis I is very charismatic and reminds many Catholics of Blessed John Paul II, the former pontiff who is set to be canonised (to be made a Saint) next year. The Pope is also an excellent communicator speaking plainly and not hiding behind ecclesiastical rhetoric, which Benedict XVI as an academic was prone to do. On the way back from Brazil, Pope Francis held a press conference at the back of the papal plane for nearly an hour and a half. When asked by journalists about rumours of a “gay lobby” in the Vatican, the Pope made headlines around the world when he said: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”. The Roman Catholic leader continued: “The catechism of the Church explains this very beautifully”. He added: “We shouldn’t marginalise people for this. They must be integrated into society.”

This Papal words on homosexuality is a break from the hard-line rhetoric of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XIV, which I welcome, and is a signal from the current pontiff he knows there are gay priests but as long as they remain celibate it doesn’t bother him.

The Pope may well be the leader of 1.2 billion Catholics but he is also a sharp political operator, which you would expect from a Head of State, and, along with leading the faithful, his mission is to shake up one of the oldest institutions on Earth. His papacy should be very interesting indeed.


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Black smoke seen over the Sistine Chapel

Cardinals convene for the Papal Conclave before the doors were shut to the outside world

Cardinals convene for the Papal Conclave inside the Sistine Chapel

The 115 Cardinals who have today been ensconced in the magnificent surroundings of the Sistine Chapel have undertaken the single vote allowed on Day 1 of the Papal Conclave, which, as expected, has failed to choose the next Pope.

Black smoke blew from the special chimney erected on the roof of the Sistine Chapel indicating one Cardinal present did not have two-thirds of the vote.

The Cardinals have now returned to their hotel within Vatican City, especially built by Benedict XVI, to accommodate all Cardinals under 80 who can vote in a Conclave. They will return to the Sistine Chapel in the morning.

Tomorrow and every forthcoming day of the Conclave (if more days are required), the Cardinals will vote twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon until one of their numbers has 77 votes or more. Security is very tight. The Chapel was swept for listening and visual devices before the Conclave, telephones are banned and mobile phone jamming devices are in use by Vatican security.

We will know when the next Pope is elected when white smoke is seen from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel accompanied by the pealing of the bells of St Peter’s. If the candidate accepts, he will then become the next Pope and leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.