Justin Cardinal Rigali moved to Knoxville when he retired as Archbishop of Philadelphia. The mandatory retirement age for bishops is 75 but cardinals can vote for the next pope until they are 80. Rigali will turn 78 in April. Yesterday he flew to Rome to prepare for the conclave that will elect Pope Benedict XVI’s successor. A large crowd gave him a send-off at the airport after a prayer service at All Saints Church.
WATE’s headline was “Knoxville’s Cardinal Rigali heads to Rome to select next pope.” He doesn’t have any official duties in Knoxville but he does help out around the diocese and he has an office at the chancery. WBIR’s story was “Local Catholics gather to see Cardinal Rigali off to Rome and Conclave.” They mistakenly referred to All Saints Church as a cathedral in the video but they corrected the error in the text of the story. Not surprisingly, both stories were followed by hate-filled anti-Catholic comments, as was the article on the News Sentinel’s website. WVLT misspelled the cardinal’s name as “Rigalis” instead of Rigali.
Terry Moran of ABC News traveled to Rome with Cardinal Rigali. I read on the Facebook page for All Saints that ABC News “will be following the cardinal from Knoxville to Rome and will be with him as much as is possible during the election of the new pope. This will provide a unique and in depth report on how the pope is chosen through the eyes of Cardinal Rigali.” Obviously, the cameras will have to stay outside the sealed doors of the conclave.
Rigali knows a lot about the Vatican. He worked there from 1970 to 1994. When I interviewed Cardinal Rigali in 2011, he talked about Pope John Paul II, who elevated him to cardinal in 2003. He also talked about being present when John Paul II was shot in 1981.