19 April 2005: Where were you?

It is sometimes possible to remember precisely where you were and what you were doing when historic events took place. People often cite examples like where they were when they heard that JFK was shot, or when Neil Armstrong stepped off the LEM and onto the surface of the Moon.

Where were you and what were you doing when you heard that Joseph Card. Ratzinger had been elected Pope?

Here is a shot of what I was doing. (Many thanks to the person who sent me the video tape I took this photo from.)

Chris Wallace, Greg Burke, Fr. Zuhlsdorf

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Billie Chiricuzio says:

    I was watching you on Fox – and praying they would make the right choice (which was also my choice) – and I jumped up and down and screamed with delight when I heard. Then I sent my friend who I knew was on the roaa text message saying “Pappa Ratzi, Benedict XVI”. Then I cried – with joyful tears.

  2. Norman says:

    I was chatting on Internet Relay Chat with some friends, when someone alerted us to “white smoke”. It was past midnight in Singapore. Turned on the TV and was glued to it. Then news came and was exhilarated! Started to send text messages to all my Catholic friends who were not online.

  3. Jon says:

    I was at noon Mass at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Lancaster, PA. There’s an old fellow who daily sits
    in the last pew of the church. When I came in, he motioned me over, pulling me down, he gave me his prophecy, “I guarantee it. It’s gonna
    be Ratzinger.”

    It was a warm day, and the windows were open. At twelve, as usual, the bells rang the hour. Then a few minutes later, just into the first reading, they began tolling again. It was then I suddenly realized they hadn’t stopped. Not only hadn’t they stopped, but they were palpably joined by other bells from around the city.

    People began looking around at each other, all obviously thinking the same thing. The gentleman serving Mass quietly rose and went into the sacristy, which is connected to the rectory. He came out a few minutes later, grinning ear to ear. He looked directly at me as he came through the door, smiled and nodded his head. Sitting back down, he leaned over and whispered to Father.

    St. Mary’s in an old church, with a raised pulpit. When it came time for the homily, Father mounted the steps verrry slowly,
    and smiling broadly, said, “It seems we have a pope.”

    After Mass, everyone patted each other on the back, and said, “I wonder who it is?” I ran out to my car, and flipped on
    the radio. I couldn’t find the announcement at first, but finally I got a fuzzy station from Philadelphia. I tuned in
    just in time to hear Cardinal Medina make the announcement. I couldn’t help myself, tears ran down my cheeks.
    I then flipped open my phone and called a friend to whom I’d never spoken before – Henry Edwards – and we whooped it up

  4. Karen Russell says:

    As is my usual habit, I had gone onto Catholic Online Forum at lunchtime, and found new posts reporting white smoke and bells ringing. So I dashed downstairs to the TV and I didn’t have long to wait for the announcement.

    I spent the rest of the afternoon grinning from ear to ear.

  5. CaesarMagnus says:

    First I was watching a “papal smoke web cam.” I happened to turn it on and noticed something was going on. At that point I got the pastor and he turned on EWTN.
    I remember the “eternity” it took for the cardinal to announce the name. LOL.

    Then I think the devil got very upset, and I got hit with some splash damage:
    The next evening I went into the hospital with a strange muscle condition (rhabdomyolysis) that caused my kidneys to fail. Ended up in the hospital for a month. Strove to offer up (what I can remember) for the Pope. Didn’t do the best job, but I hope I spiritually helped in some way.

    It was actually the Pope’s election that saved my life, though, because my friend had come over to celebrate the Pope’s election, and he found me in a total stupor, and got me to the hospital. Had he not found me, the doctors said I probably would have died.

    I am truly grateful for Pope Benedict and his timely election. A year later, I am doing much better, Deo gratias! Danke Papst Benedict.

  6. JP says:

    I was on my knees, praying, ‘Not Ratzinger. Not Ratzinger. Please, God, anyone (well, not just anyone) but Ratzinger.’

    It was Cardinal Ratzinger’s work in various books (I discovered the first one I read, God and the World, by accident) that healed years of spiritual mutilation due to putrid catechesis, and showed me the way home to the Church. When JPII died, I, like the old man in the last pew, was certain Cardinal Ratzinger would be chosen, and I prayed ferverently that God would let the cup pass; that He would let His good servant go, that Ratzinger would finally be allowed the retirement to his piano and his books that he had been repeatedly refused. I feared for him, should he become Pope in a world that seemed so determined to hate and despise him. Oh, me of little faith!

    I am, by age, a JPII Catholic. But my Papa is Benedict!

  7. Tim Ferguson says:

    I was in school in Ottawa for canon law. My class had comprehensive exams – half on the day the election took place and half (including me) the following day. A buzz went around the lunchroom that there was white smoke, so we wolfed down the remainder of lunch and ran upstairs to the television. One of my classmates, an IHM sister, had her comps at 1:00, and was getting ready – popping into the TV room between putting on her makeup and doing up her hair. She kept saying -“Please, let it be anyone but Ratzinger, if it’s Ratzinger, I’m just going to walk into comps and say, ‘don’t bother asking me any questions, I don’t care, I’m leaving the Church'” Another of my classmates, a liberal layman from Texas, had been saying, with reference to our class’ upcoming trip to Rome the following week, “I agree, Cardinal Ratzinger has done more damage to the Church than anyone around. If we’re given the opportunity, I do not want to even meet with Cardinal Ratzinger.” Meanwhile, I was sitting there sipping coffee out of my Cardinal Ratzinger fan club coffee mug.

    When the Cardinal Deacon came to the loggia to make the announcement, and stated the name “Iosephum,” I immediately racked my brain trying to think if there was another Cardinal in the running with that first name. When, second later, he said “Rrrrrratzingerr” my heart skipped a beat. There was a moment of palpable silence in the room. The two classmates of mine said, in unison, “Ohhhh noooo,” the exact same time, I let out an uncontrollable “Woo Hoo!” and jumped up out of my seat to run down the hall and call my family. When I returned to the TV room a few minutes later, a few remaining priests and the liberal layman were sitting there in silence, stunned. It was a glorious moment.

  8. Patrick says:

    Standing on a chair towards the front of the Piazza, and cheering as wildly as everyone else!

  9. Joe Garbarino says:

    I was unempployed…coming from yet another disappointing job interview…heading down I-94 from Minneapolis to St. Paul when I heard there was a new Pope. I decided to pull off and go to St. agnes to say a rosary. The bells of St. Agnes were all ringing out in anticipation of the announcement.
    After half a decade, I thought,”They must be watching in the Rectory.” So I knocked on the door -and before I could form my question, Mrs. Praska directed me to the television.
    What an honor to sit with Fr. Welsbacher, Msgr. Shuler,Fr. Altier,and a deacon weeks away from ordination. I thought, “Wow..the only person missing is Fr. Zuhlsdorf.” Then I heard your voice coming from the television set.
    One of the greatest moments as a Catholic. Happenstance ? Or a gentle reminder that I need to work a lot harder if I want to be among you incredible priests in Eternity.

  10. Joe: Given the goodness and patience of many laypeople I have met, I should think it might be the other way around. Thanks to you, and everyone, for the comments. Keep them coming!


  11. Sue Sims says:

    New to this site – greetings to all!

    I’d just got home from school with the kids (we’re in the UK, so on GMT, five hours after EST), and someone had turned on the television. There it was, in Rome, and the commentator was saying something like: “It is…the smoke’s white! or is it grey again?….No…” and then the bell started ringing, and the cameras cut to hundreds of people running towards the square, including nuns in caught-up habits charging like slim, female rhinos. Then there was a longish wait, and I remember the commentator struggling to fill the empty space; and the cardinal came out on the balcony. I couldn’t breathe. He said – well, you all know what he said. I was translating for the family, and when he got to ‘Josephum’ I shouted ‘YEEEESSSSS!!!!’ (I’d have looked really stupid had there been another cardinal in the running called Joseph) and started chanting ‘Ratzinger, Ratzinge, Ratzinger!’, much to the bemusement of my (mainly non-Catholic) family. Then I started dancing.

    But the best thing, in a horribly schadenfreudisch way, was a programme that the BBC put out on the election about a month later. Their main mouthpiece, so to speak, whom they followed from the death of JPII to a little after the election, was Margaret Hebblethwaite, one of the mainstays of the liberal establishment over here: regular Tablet contributor (for any non-Brit who hasn’t come across it, it’s the weekly which is the equivalent of the National Catholic Reporter), widow of ex-Jesuit Peter Hebblethwaite, etc, etc. She was shown escorting Sr Joan Chittister round Rome, and the most wonderful moment of the whole programme was Sr Chittister’s face when she heard the announcement. There was a sort of frozen panic which was a joy to behold.

    Yes, I did mention it later in confession.

  12. Steve Loftus says:

    I was working at my job as a police dispatcher in Bakersfield, Ca. The office was watching the coverage on FOX and I was commenting to my co-workers about the conclave and who my choice would have been. When the smoke turned white my co-workers took over my work position so I could listen to the announcement. When the announcement was made to the world and I heard my “man” was now the Holy Father, the tears flowed. I along with another co-worker were telling the others in the room that we had both met Fr. Z, who was commenting on FOX news, but nobody in the room beleived us on that subject.

  13. Henry Edwards says:

    I then flipped open my phone and called a friend to whom I’d never spoken before

    As Cardinal Medina finished the announcement, I turned to my wife and said, This is the greatest Catholic moment of our lives, then turned back to the TV, and knelt to kiss the floor. At that instant the phone rang, and it was Jon.

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