“I’ve lost a Cardinal,” I said to myself, panic-stricken. To have misplaced one of the 118 Cardinals able to vote in a conclave, this was certainly the lowest point in my professional career.
I had been given a relatively simple task: escort Cardinal John Foley from the Catholic Media Convention to his interview at the CBC studios. But due to some sort of miscommunication, the former head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications was not at the pre-arranged meeting point.
I would soon learn that Pennsylvania-born and Rome-based Cardinal traveled light—no entourage to contact, no cell phone to call. After informing the CBC and searching frantically for one hour, all I could do now was continue patrolling the Sheraton Hotel lobby.
My phone then rang, displaying the Salt + Light office number. It was my colleague Sébastien Lacroix.
“How are you?”
“Unwell. I can’t talk now.”
“But listen, we found Cardinal Foley. He’s now at the CBC.”
To my relief, a kind lady from Radio Maria had driven him to the headquarters amidst the confusion. His interview on Newsworld was excellent and, afterwards, the Cardinal reminisced on papal visits with Peter Mansbridge and David Knapp (CBC Director of Special Events and Elections).
Though I worried he would be upset by the chaos of the morning, His Eminence didn’t once betray his characteristic warmth. As the taxi dropped us off back at the hotel, he invited me to join him for a milkshake. You can’t find good milkshakes in Europe, he explained.
Given Cardinal Foley’s personable nature, most of the convention delegates could likely also speak of a memorable encounter. He proved just as outgoing after the convention, as well, during the closing announcements of Sunday Mass at St. Michael’s Cathedral.
“Will anyone be driving home past the Sheraton on Queen Street,” the Cardinal asked the congregation. “I could use a lift!"Photo by Nancy Wiechec of Catholic News Service.Used by special permission.