Conclave criteria

Conclave criteria

As I mentioned yesterday, I was thinking of what I believe the cardinals entering the conclave will use as criteria for who they will vote for as the next pope. Then I will give you who I think are the leading contenders.

Let’s keep in mind a few factors. It has been a very long time since the last conclave and only a couple of these cardinals have any experience in such voting. However, this vote is not a surprise and, no doubt, the cardinals have been examining their brother cardinals for a long time, sizing them up as it were. John Paul has also worked hard at bringing the cardinals together for meetings and synods and consistories at an unprecedented frequency and most of them are very familiar with one another.

Let’s also look at a couple of the traits of the papacy that they are likely going to want to continue. They will want someone who can communicate easily with the world, especially through the media. The new pope will speak at least English, in addition to his own language, and will likely speak at least 3 or 4 languages. He will be congenial and charismatic. He will have had experience traveling to different places in the world, meeting representatives of various cultures. He will also have a keen knowledge of the Roman curia and the workings of the bureaucracy.

Apart from that, the college divides into several different groups (not exactly factions). There is the old guard of Europe. They are the most likely to cling to old traditions, such as favoring an Italian or even someone from one of the historically pope-producing sees, like Venice. They are the least likely to think outside the box. They are most likely, again in general, to vote for the more “moderate” or “liberal” candidate.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
28 comments
  • I pray and hope for a holy man.
    (secretly, I hope for Cipriani, just to see all the libs and progressives go ballistic. Plus he’s a JPII kind of guy.)

  • Dom,

    You can hide Gerard’s name, but you can’t hide his style.

    As I said below, Kasper might be another dark horse.  I think that he was a special “project” of JPII’s, and that our late pontiff succeeded in leading this German prelate into greater orthodoxy.  Kasper has been quietly doing some good work in the vexing area of inter-religious dialogue.  He may just be one of those currently flying under the radar that has impressed a number of his fellow cardinals.

  • Good summation Dom, reflecting a lot of what I’ve been thinking myself.

    However, I tend to think Ratzinger is a bit too… well, too much of everything.  Too orthodox for some, too old for others, too prominent in the positions he’s held for many – I think enough people have heard the insane conspiracy theories where Ratzinger plays the villain that the cardinals may not want (even unconsciously) to seem like part of the plot.

    On the other hand, I may show my bias in thinking (or is it hoping?) that a “punt” would be seen within the conclave as capitulation to everything John Paul was not.  They may not dare to go too far, but I don’t think they’ll want to be accused of not going far enough.

  • Great analysis!  By looking through the web, it looks like the same names are coming up all over and I am starting to feel that this time we shall not have any big surprises.

    If a surprise will occur, it may be Cdl Dias, who seems to have many of the characteristics you mention.  How his Indian base will play out in the other considerations, though remains to be seen.

  • Arinze is my choice!  I was watching the memorial Mass at St. Peter’s yesterday and looking over all the cardinals.  I kept looking for a warm face and frankly, there weren’t many.

    I’d love to see Arinze elected, or one of the younger Latin American cardinals.

    And then, Condi for Prez in ‘08!

  • According to Father Neuhaus, http://www.firstthings.com/romediary/romediary.htm

    “Another item filling the news vacuum is a report that John Paul told friends this past year that the three cardinals who could best carry on his mission are Ivan Dias of Bombay, Claudio Hummes of Sao Paulo, and Angelo Scola of Venice. I am told the report is being taken seriously by some cardinals, and not only by the three supposedly mentioned.”

    I have not seen Ivan Dias name anywhere as papabili.  It will interesting to see who becomes our new Pope.  May the Holy Spirit guide them in their deliberation.

  • Dom,

    Sorry for the confusion.  I thought you were quoting longtime CB gracer Gerard E.  I also thought that since you didn’t seem to recognize his name, that I must have misspelled it.  Sorry!

  • Isn’t Cipriani a Priest of Opus Dei?
    That would give the media something to sink their claws into.

  • The only criteria which should be used to evaluate the cardinalate for papabili is the level of a cardinal’s catholicism.  This talk of “left” and “right” and “liberal” and “conservative” is political speak that shouldn’t apply to the selection of a pope.

    Cardinals should only concern theirselves with how deeply catholic a candidate is and how well he will maintain the faith during the remainder of his life.

    Recall the very first words uttered in the papal oath :

    I vow to change nothing of the received Tradition, and nothing thereof I have found before me guarded by my God-pleasing predecessors, to encroach upon, to alter, or to permit any innovation therein

    Left, right, middle, top, bottom, I don’t really care.  As long as they uphold tradition and inspire men to be catholic, that is all that I care for.

  • By the way, Scola is the Patriarch of Venice. Tettamanzi is from Milan.  And Scola would be awesome.

  • Pel,

    In this context, “liberal” and “conservative” are shorthand for how closely the man hews to Tradition. If someone has better descriptors that convey the same information among the general public, I’d love to hear them. All this talk about not liking political categories is fine and dandy, but it ignores the reality of the world the way it is.

  • I have wishes, but no insights .

    The Italian flurry?  Martini will block Tettamanzi.  Why?  1) Martini is a symbolic start for some of the progressives in Europe, and 2) Martini was rather roughly replaced by Tettamanzi a year or so ago and *put* into retirement.  These things don’t just *go away.*  Neither Martini nor Tettamanzi will really go anywhere, however.  Martini has some health problems and Tettamanzi will be blocked.

    Cardinal Ratzinger is currently being accused of being a little overbearing…..he was supposedly the one who tried to cut off the access to the press, but I have also heard that no, it wasn’t him at all…..
    He did release a book in German in just the last few days.  Interesting.  And the last few months he’s been furiously writing.  However, he doesn’t want the papacy for himself.  Before all this it was well-known that he has wanted to retire for years.  He is interested in a campaign for order and counter-reform in the Church—a “management/Catholic identity” papacy, so to speak.  Perhaps as a result of all the pitiful letters he has been a witness to as leader of the CDF over the years.  He is a powerful part of a voting group or bloc, if you wish, that has that as one of their principles.  He is maneuvering to speak power long enough to try to put together sufficient votes to place a member of that group in office….the member could come from a variety of places.  Geography really is no longer very important in this age.  (Well, except for in Africa and Asia maybe, but they’re not powerful enough to do much with that.)

    No, if the Italian flurry goes anywhere, it will be the candidate from that bloc that can put together the features that appeal to the widest interpretations of the leading interests…….

    Bertone or Schola perhaps??  Or someone else with the same vibes who is lesser known?

    Incidentally Ruini is in that same bloc and may be doing the same thing as Ratzinger, perhaps with Ratzinger.

    If the Italian flurry goes nowhere—is blocked, then expect a compromise candidate—the Parisian Lustiger or one of the others who can appeal to various facets of several blocs……  maybe a South American compromise man—Trujillo?

  • GOR, does it strike you as a tad odd that so much attention is given to the human politics of this and so little to the Holy Spirit? (I believe the latter is in charge here.)

    Kelly <——who feels like she’s reading an issue o’ People magazine wink

  • Sorry, Kelly, but human politics is as much a part of this as anything. And since the Spirit blows where the Spirit wills, the only thing we can analyze is the human side.

    After all, there is no guarantee that the Holy Spirit will ensure that a good and holy man will get elected. The Church endured many years of evil Borgia popes and the like. There’s no guarantee it can’t happen again.

    The Holy Spirit leaves part of the job up to fallible men.

  • Kelly: not so much r_email>
    http://pewlady.blogspot.com
    209.91.58.188
    2005-04-14 13:16:16
    2005-04-14 17:16:16
    Hey, Dom, I’m not disagreeing. And I’m well aware o’ the fact that some pretty unsavory characters have occupied Peter’s chair.

    GOR, well put.

    tm30: if you’re right, I’m going to claim that “tm30” is my alias and you won’t be able to do a thing about it! wink

    Seriously…how about a pope from an area where the Church is suppressed?  Sort of a repeat of JPII and Poland. I’m not up on my cardinals (although I should be…there’s a great link on the CWN “resources” area to an amazing Church Hierarchy site) and so don’t know of any in, say, North Korea or China…but then the pope doesn’t have to be a cardinal, right?

  • Interesting thought, Kelly – a really dark horse, eh? After all, no one but no one mentioned Karol Wotyla prior to the Conclave in 1978.

    Anyone remember who the papabili were in 1978…???

    Of course we don’t have any blog archives to go back to, unfortunately.

  • Here is a wild thought.

    Given that the Spirit blows where it wills, that the connection to the young people established by JPII needs to be maintained, that Catholicism is on life support in France and Germany, and that World Youth Day this year is in Germany…

    It all seems to point to Ratzinger, no?  And the fact that the next WYD will not be in Germany can match with his age.  Maybe I need to go for a walk…

  • Must be careful not to try to fit this papacy into the mold of the last one……The circumstances that the Pope comes from, at least, are going to be different. 

    There may well be a lot of anxiety over the condition of Europe behind those doors.  I’m sure it has occurred to at least some of those cardinals that if immigrant inundation overwhelms Europe, it will overwhelm Rome too, and then what?? 

    It is already the case that the largest mosque in Europe is only a few miles from the Vatican…and looking north.

  • The idea that no one mentioned Karol Wotyla before his election is false.  He was a factor in PJP1’s election, and he was a compromise candidate when he was elected.

    It’s just that the major news organizations didn’t mention him…..and that was BI (before Internet)….LOL

  • Don’t forget the Indian…Mother Teresa might be behind the scenes on that one….I think the South Americans and the Africans will cancel eatch other out…the Italians would no doubt prefer to kee the papacy in Europe, if not Italy. That might improve Cardinal Schoenborn’s chances….but I still like the idea of a complete surprise…like a cardinal from the East!

  • If Cdl Ratzinger get it, on one vote or 100, I’ll probably laugh so hard I’ll split a gut.  Then I’ll get on my knees and thank God Hummes didn’t get it. 

    This is going to be a really full week—one I’ve been dreading for a long time—not because I don’t think it will turn out okay, but because it’s so hard on the nerves….

    Yes, I know the Holy Spirit guides us, but the guarantee is that a pope won’t be able to destroy the Church, not that the pope can’t be a very evil or strange man.  That’s happened before.  Many times.

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