Now that the cardinals have agreed to begin their conclave this Tuesday, March 12, one can only hope that it will go quickly, as in, “We’re done talking; let’s elect a pope and go home to our people.”

Since they have been meeting formally since Monday, and informally since last week, each cardinal should have a good idea who among them should be the Vicar of Christ. What else could they possibly learn from and about each other?

When the election is over, I would like to hear from the U.S. cardinals as to why they had to stop talking to the media even though information from the congregational meetings was being leaked to the Italian media. My guess is that it wasn’t the Americans leaking the information.

It was great seeing and hearing Cardinals Dolan, O’Malley, DiNardo, George and Wuerl talking so openly about the congregational discussions in which the cardinals were engaged. The Americans were practicing the transparency they’ve been preaching.

Given the reports we’ve been hearing about different groups favoring one cardinal or another, do you think there will be chants of “USA! USA!” in the conclave if the support for Cardinal Dolan or Cardinal O’Malley grows?

Speaking of March 12, that’s a holy day in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. It is Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki’s 64th birthday.

Remember, a lot of Vatican watchers have said we would have a new pope by Easter; none of them said which year.