Two developments took place over the last week.
The first and more cheerful of the two is that Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver has been named to take over the See of Philadelphia. This is good news. It means that he will get the red hat and that the bench of American red hats is very strong. I can't think of any previous US cardinal with whom I'd have been comfortable being elected pope. Now with ++Dolan and ++Chaput as probable papabile, that has changed. ++Dolan would be marvelous, but ++Chaput would be absolutely phenomenal. With the possible exception of Cardinal Burke, he is quite possibly the brightest light in the American episcopal firmament.
My friend knows him well and, until September 8, works for him. He loves playing racquetball, and once, when my friend related a story of how someone woman with whom he had spoken told him she had converted in her heart simply upon seeing some bishop in his episcopal finery, ++Chaput said, "Oh, yeah, [Name]. That happens all the time," and said it like it was no big deal.
In 2003, I took a trip to Rome. During Bl. John Paul II's pontificate, if you knew the right people and could pull the right strings, you could get in to his private morning Mass. We did and we pulled, but, alas, it was not to be, as we got a message upon returning to our pensione that, well, it was not to be.
Had we gone, Mass would have been followed by a small receiving line, where we would have had a chance to receive a rosary blessed by him and say a few words. I told myself that if I got a chance to say one thing to him, it would have been, "If you want to cement your legacy, Holy Father, make Archbishops Pell and Chaput cardinals." Because, you know, popes and such are always calling moi for such pearls of wisdom. Oi vay.
In any event, ahem, Bl. John Paul II did make ++Pell a cardinal, and now it looks as though B16 will do the same at some point with ++Chaput. So it looks like, despite my ever-growing pride, God agreed with my assessment, at least insofar as it is good for the Church to have these two men as pope-makers and possibly even popes themselves.
The second note, and decidedly sad, is that Dr. Warren Carrol, founder of Christendom College, Seton High School, and Seton Homeschooling and author of a multi-volume history of Catholicism, has passed away in Front Royal, VA, at age 79. Dr. Carrol helped keep aflame my love of history and enabled me to see there were perfectly rational explanations for things such as the Inquisition and Crusades, etc.
I never formally met him. My only encounter with him was this past May, when my sister-in-law graduated from Christendom. At a reception afterward, there he sat against the wall with his walker sipping pink punch. He had evidently suffered a stroke some time before, and like many stroke victims, didn't have full use of his motor abilities. The punch spilled on the floor, and I helped clean it up and saved what I could for his further consumption. I had no idea who this man was.
A few minutes later, my newly graduated suocera came up to me and asked, "Did you see that old man against the wall with his walker?" "Yeah." "That's Warren Carrol." "No kidding. He doesn't look so great." "Yeah, he's had a stroke." I resolved to go up and introduce myself, but he was no longer there. Thus my brush with a good man who did great things for the Church. Hooray for me. Ain't I just soooooo special. OK, let's not answer that question.