Thursday, March 7, 2013

Papal resignation and conclave - 10

Papal resignation and conclave – 10


The first photo above has nothing to do with the subject matter of today's post, but as I was walking here the other day It struck me that from this point I could see on the right, the palazzo where Cardinal Ratzinger lived on the top floor for 20 years. The building above in the far background is the apostolic palace, all tightly closed now, where he lived for seven years as pope. In between the two is the pinkish colored building which is the barracks of the Swiss Guards who protected him as pope. All three places in one photo.


The second photo is the mob scene of photographers which happens every day when Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lione, France, arrives at, or leaves from, the site of the general congregations . . . on his bicycle! Those are security guards who are trying to get him through the phortographers. Wouldn't it be fun if the cycling cardinal became pope!


The papabili


This small Italian word, papabile (plural, papabili) has come to be, in modern times, one of those universal words, like ciao. It is used almost exclusively when a papal conclave is imminent. It takes more than one word to translate it: "a candidate likely to be elected pope". You can see various lists of papabili in all the media, and nothing stops you from creating your own list. Many times the leading cardinal on these lists is indeed elected pope. Such was the case in 1939 when Eugenio Pacelli, to nobody's surprise, was elected as Pius XII, and again in 1963 when Giovanni Battista Montini was elected as Paul VI. But many times the opposite is true. In the conclave of 1958 very few people expected Angelo Roncalli, to be chosen as John XXIII. In 1978 the little-known Albino Luciani was certainly not one of the favorites, but he came out of the conclave as John Paul I. And of course his successor, Carol Wojtyla, John Paul II, in that same year was a compromise choice because the conclave was deadlocked on the two top papabili, Cardinal Siri and Cardinal Benelli. The traditional wisdom is that the longer the conclave goes on, the better the chance is that a compromise candidate will be elected. Also, there is a long-standing saying which goes like this: He who enters the conclave as pope, leaves it as a cardinal. So, Papabili, beware!


Having said these preliminaries, here is my own top ten list of papabili, in alphabetical order. Six of the ten are archbishops of dioceses and four are members of the Roman Curia, the governing body of the Church. Kind of like the president's cabinet in the American political system.


Joao Braz                               age 66             Brazil                          Member of the Roman Curia


Timothy Dolan                      age 63             United States              Archbishop of New York


Peter Erdo                             age 60             Hungary                      Archbishop of Budapest


Sean O'Malley                       age 68             United States              Archbishop of Boston


Marc Ouellet                         age 68             Canada                       Member of the Roman Curia


Gianfranco Ravasi                 age 70             Italy                            Member of the Roman Curia


Odilo Scherer                                    age 63             Brazil                          Archbishop of Sao Paulo


Christopher Schonborn       age 68             Austria                                    Archbishop of Vienna


Angelo Scola                         age 71             Italy                            Archbishop of Milan


Peter Turkson                                   age 64             Ghana                         Member of the Roman Curia


In addition to my "official ten" I have one other name; I guess you could call him a "sentimental favorite". His name is Jorge Bergolio, age 76, archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was one of the top papabili in the conclave of 2005. On the third and final ballot in that conclave, he is said to have received 40 votes, second only to Joseph Ratzinger who was elected on that ballot with 72 votes. As archbishop, Bergolio, a Jesuit, gave up the luxurious archbishop's palace and moved into a modest apartment, where he cooks his own meals. And he travels around in a regular automobile rather than in a chauffeured limousine. You have to like a guy like that! He will probably receive several votes in the early balloting as a sign of respect, especially from the Latin American cardinals. But I don't think he will be elected . . .  UNLESS he becomes the compromise candidate of a deadlocked conclave.


A lot of people are putting on their list of papabili the Philippino archbishop of Manila, Luis Tagle. I like him myself, but I think he is too young to be elected at age 55. You could be looking at a 30 plus year pontificate with him, and I don't think the electors want that.


Long or short conclave?


As I stated in an earlier post, my own feeling is that an early starting conclave will produce a long lasting conclave and a later starting conclave will produce a shorter lasting conclave. The later the conclave begins, the longer time the cardinals have to evaluate candidates before entering the conclave. The cardinals have remained split on this issue. The Americans and Germans are pushing hard for a later start while the Italians, especially those in the Curia, are anxious to begin as early as possible. Three possible starting dates have been floating around in the press here. It began with March 8, then became March 11, and now I am hearing March 12. Well, all 115 electors are now present in Rome, so we should have a decision on the starting date, perhaps by tomorrow.


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