Cardinal Justin Rigali and Bishop Richard Stika took time from their Holy Week activities to record a thirty-minute public affairs interview with me on Wednesday. The program aired early this morning on the Journal Broadcast Group radio stations in Knoxville. We talked about the election of Pope Francis and about the upcoming Eucharistic Congress in Sevierville.
Cardinal Rigali was a voting member of the Papal conclaves that elected Benedict XVI and Francis. In the days following the most recent conclave, the Cardinal was at the same meal as the new Pope several times. In a phone conversation, Bishop Stika asked the Cardinal to ask the Pope to give his blessing to the Diocese of Knoxville. The Cardinal was pleasantly surprised when Pope Francis told him to have it drawn up in writing so he could sign it before his schedule got too busy.
After the interview ended, I still had more questions. I wondered what language Cardinal Rigali used when speaking with the new Pope. He said they generally spoke in Italian. They both speak Spanish and English too. Then I asked about Pope John Paul II, a man of many languages. Cardinal Rigali worked in the Vatican for a number of years during the papacies of Paul VI and John Paul II. He said that he and John Paul II usually spoke in English but that he would wait to see what language the Pope was using to start the conversation.
As we left the studio, I told the Cardinal that I would see him the next night when he came to All Saints to preside at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. I mentioned that my wife Jere would be singing with the choir and that she would love to meet him. At the conclusion of the service, Cardinal Rigali greeted a long line of parishioners in the narthex. He made my wife’s day by saying, “You must be Jere,” as we approached. He complimented her singing and then told her that he enjoyed my interview.
Former News Sentinel business editor Bill Brewer, who is now the media director for the Diocese of Knoxville, accompanied the Cardinal to the radio station. He graciously snapped a few photos with my camera during and after the interview.
You can stream or download the interview with Bishop Stika and Cardinal Rigali using the podcasting link below.