We've our annual hall ball tonight, for which I have cautiously high expectations. It's the first combined ball - involving both new and old parts of our hall - in three years, so I really hope it goes well. I'll have to scarper in a few minutes, in fact; the bus goes at half six.
By the way, I had brilliant news today. I reckon it's not for general broadcast just yet, but if you e-mail me, I'll fill you in. Perhaps.
It appears either that our new Pope has decided to adopt a thoroughly media-friendly tone, or that at least one cardinal is incapable of keeping his word intact and his tongue still. You know the way that Cardinals, before going into Conclave, take an oath of secrecy? If I may quote:
'In a particular way, we promise and swear to observe with the greatest fidelity and with all persons, clerical or lay, secrecy regarding everything that in any way relates to the election of the Roman Pontiff and regarding what occurs in the place of the election, directly or indirectly related to the results of the voting.
We promise and swear not to break this secret in any way, either during or after the election of the new Pontiff, unless explicit authorisation is granted by the same Pontiff.'
Well, either Ratzinger gave the boys permission to yabber, or else someone's not too hot at keeping secrets. Or else, I guess, the Italian media are a rather imaginative and deceitful bunch. Either way, all manner of details have been leaking it, and it looks as though it's possible to more-or-less piece together what happened in the Conclave. The Irish Times and Washington Post between them give a fairly clear picture. And if you can believe an open-source encyclopedia on such a secretive issue, you can look at Wikipedia too.
The guts of what happened - at least according to the questionable details we're hearing - seems to have been that Cardinal Martini and the then Cardinal Ratzinger were the two clear leaders in the first ballot, getting around 40 votes each. 77 would have been needed, out of 115.
Martini, for all his brilliance, is quite ill and was never a serious candidate, having instead largely been supported as a stalking horse. Cardinals Lehmann and Kasper, both Germans and leaders of the opposition to Ratzinger fished around for an alternative candidate, but no natural choice appeared. Ratzinger's vote edged upwards as Martini's splintered. Martini then spoke to Ratzinger, who assured him of his commitment to ecumenism - apparently Martini had had fears about Ratzinger's attitude to this. His fears calmed, Martini voted for Ratzinger, as did the bulk of his supporters.
Some Italian papers are claiming that Ratzinger ultimately garnered the support of more than 100 of the 115 cardinal-electors. If Wikipedia's to be believed, he had received the necessary two-thirds majority on the third ballot, the second on Tuesday morning, and he asked for another ballot on Tuesday afternoon, to confirm - or reject - his appointment, and it was in this ballot that he received the backing of over 100 of his peers.
Or so we're told. Of course, every historian's instinct that I've picked up over the last decade is screaming about this. Our sources on what happened, frankly, are abysmal. This could all be hogwash. Let's face it, the Italian papers could be making it all up.
I suppose, if you really wanted, you could e-mail the Pope and ask him what really went on.