"In true old-style Catholic school teacher fashion, someone talks and everybody stays after school," Walsh said. She added that the Americans had been assured that the Vatican was pleased with their briefings.
Perhaps. But Lombardi's palatable irritation suggested otherwise.
Italian media reported that Vatican-based cardinals wanted the election to take place quickly and speculated that Italian cardinals in particular were displeased with the Americans for making clear they were requesting more information about the Vatican's internal governance problems. The implication was the Rome-based cardinals didn't want the Vatican's dirty laundry aired out.
Cardinals Daniel DiNardo of Texas and Sean O'Malley of Boston said in Tuesday's briefing that they favored taking a longer time for pre-conclave discussions to gather more information.
"We need to give it the time that's necessary," O'Malley told the packed press conference at the North American College, the U.S. seminary up the hill from the Vatican. "I believe the feeling of the cardinals is that we want to have enough time in the general congregations so that when we go to the conclave itself it's a time of decision."
Drawing laughs, O'Malley added: "And it is hard to get a bad meal in Rome."
German Cardinal Walter Kasper also called for more time. "Among the cardinals, we barely know one another," he told La Repubblica newspaper. "There's no hurry."
Italian newspapers and international media, including The Associated Press, have reported on the Americans' unique briefings and how they contrasted with the near-silence from other cardinals and Lombardi's comparatively sedate Vatican briefings.
During Tuesday's briefing, DiNardo and O'Malley held a lively and informative 30-minute chat with some 100 reporters and two dozen television crews from around the globe. They revealed no details of their closed-door discussions. But they nevertheless provided journalists with insight about the process from two people actually involved.
"We're trying to help people have a greater understanding of what the process is and the procedures and background information," O'Malley told reporters. "Right now that's about all we can share with you but we're happy to try to do it."
Although the Americans were the only cardinals who were holding daily briefings, other individual cardinals have given occasional interviews to individual media.
And in an indication that the blackout wasn't total, U.S. Cardinal Timothy Dolan went ahead with his live radio show broadcast Wednesday.
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