The Huether had two televisions, both of which played the news, and both of which were muted.
On the afternoon of 19 April 2005, I happened to glance up from whatever book I was reading - I'm pretty sure I was reading Augustine's De Trinitate - to see on the television billows of white smoke emerging from the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel.
I was only two when John Paul II was elected, so I of course remember nothing. What I was witnessing in 2005, therefore, was my first papal election.
And I was riveted. There was such drama with the smoke, the cardinal announcing the words, "Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum... habemus papam!" - "I announce to you a great joy... we have a pope!", and the new pope being introduced to the crowd.
I still enjoy re-watching the whole process:
At the time I was not a Roman Catholic, at least not formally. I was an Anglican in theological crisis. I loved my church, but had realized that theologically, ecclesiologically, and sacramentally I was a Roman Catholic. As I watched Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger get elected and emerge onto the balcony of St. Peter's as Pope Benedict XVI, I felt a longing that I can't explain to become fully what I was already in my heart.
I was received into the Roman church two years later, and took "Benedict" as my confirmation name, as a nod to both St. Benedict of Nursia and to the man who was be pope when I became a Roman Catholic.
It was, therefore, a moving experience for me to see a much-aged pope leave the Vatican today:
Almost eight years later, the see of Peter is vacant, and while the Pope-emeritus is not dead I feel a sense of mourning this evening. Pope Benedict XVI was not perfect. It would appear that he had shortcomings as an administrator. Moreover, there are facets of his thought with which I humbly disagree. But he was and is a theologian and scholar whom I respect deeply, a man of profound depth. His writings as pope, and particularly his encyclical Deus Caritas Est, demonstrate his depth clearly. But his resignation demonstrated to me a tremendous humility that underlines what appears to be depth of spirituality.
So now, we wait...