Papal politics

Papal politics

The New York Times picks up on Hans Kung’s fevered imaginings that the spontaneous calls for Pope John Paul’s immediate canonization are part of an orchestrated campaign to influence the election of the next pope.

The movement for canonization may be tied to pre-conclave maneuvering. According to this interpretation, it is an effort to build a consensus of like-minded cardinals, or even to position one of John Paul’s inner circle as the best successor. The theory is that only someone of great weight, like a Cardinal Ratzinger or Cardinal Ruini, someone close to the pope or his thinking, could follow a man of such spiritual magnitude.

Emphasizing canonization is an effort to show that “only continuity is allowed in the succession of John Paul,” said Alberto Melloni, a historian of Vatican conclaves.

So did the cardinals plant the “Santo Subito” signs in the crowd during the funeral? Did they hand out fliers to the hundreds of thousands of people chanting for Pope John Paul to be canonized? Have they organized a campaign among Catholics around the world?

I think there are some people who are afraid that outpouring of love and respect for John Paul will lead to a like-minded successor and can’t believe that such expressions are spontaneous. Like the Democrats who continue to believe that Bush won the presidency (twice) only because many of their voters were “disenfranchised” rather than winning fair and square, some Catholics are mentally preparing themselves to find reasons why a particular kind of pope will be elected that don’t mean that he is the best possible candidate. No, it will have to be that politics and nefarious backroom dealing put an unwanted pope in office. What a sad way to live.

  • Leaving Professor Kung’s worries aside, it would be interesting to find out who did bring the “Santo Subito” signs to the Mass: it was a smart media move, and it appeared to be an organized effort by somebody.

  • Other parts of the orchestrated campaign to “raise [Pope John Paul II] to the altar” have been in place for years and are now being “rolled” out: the dossier for his canonization in the form of George Weigel’s biography, Witness to Hope, with a new edition becoming available next Tuesday (April 19th); and miracles now being reported—going back some time, even to the early part of his pontificate when a woman in a papal reception line was healed by his touch and a visiting Russian Orthodox prelate collapsed and died when he shook hands with him.  Would the latter count for or against the Pope’s canonization?  Oh, that we still had the “devil’s advocate” to make such judgments. 

  • My guess is there’s been a lot of people among the faithful who, independently of each other, wished to advocate immediate sainthood For JPtG and got their stuff together.  Could even be each group thought that their idea was original.  Anyway, unlike Kung’s pals the Belgian liberals, they knew enough to wait until the candidate’s funeral.  When they showed up and started raising their banners, they all found out that others scattered here and there had done the same thing, and the crowds of the Faithful – spontaneously – took it from there. 

    Can’t say it happened exactly like that, but at least this scenario is more rational than Kung’s conspiracy theory.  One thing’s for sure:  Cardinal Ratzinger’s expression during the outpouring is hard to describe, but it certainly wasn’t that of somebody who had just pulled a fast one.

    Organized?  Yes, at least to a point – people had gotten together and the signs were already made up, but orchestrated?


  • Wow, Tom: that Russian-prelate story is wild.

    It reminds me of the passage from Acts in which Ananias and Sapphira dropped dead upon being confronted by St. Peter!

  • Personally, I get my blog entries from Cardinal <strike>Rove’s</strike> Ratzinger’s daily fax.  I suppose if Der Panzerkardinal is elected this week, it would have about the same effect on liberals as if Karl Rove were elected President in 08.