Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Conclave: Absence of clear favourite leaves door open to a number of possibilities

VATICAN CITY, - Cardinals, including the over 80s, have started their pre-Conclave pow wows. Many Italians are betting on Scola. U.S. candidates will play a central role but there is still uncertainty over the future Pope’s profile

Big manoeuvres are expected in the election of the next successor to the Seat of Peter. Cardinals, including the over 80s among them (Sodano and Ruini), have kick started the pre-Conclave pow wows. Many Italians are betting on Scola being elected as he would strengthen the front and prevent a split, like the one which occurred between Benelli and Siri in 1978, paving the way for outsider Wojtyla’s rise to the Seat of Peter. The focus will also be on U.S. cardinals as they were the first to deal with the paedophilia scandal, they are at the forefront of issues that are key for the Catholic Church in today’s secularised society (the constant friction between U.S. bishops and the Obama administration over issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion demonstrated this), and more prosaically, they are the biggest contributors to the Holy See’s coffers. The Church does not appear to be ready for an African or Asian. Africa and Asia are scarcely represented in the Conclave.

Whoever is elected as the next leader of the Catholic Church will have to add Ratzinger’s “purification” programme to their agenda. The profile of the new Pope remains hazy.

In his last homily before leaving for Rome, the Archbishop of Washington, Donald William Wuerl, who figures in the list of those considered likely to be elected Pope (the papabili) expressed enthusiasm but also apprehension at the prospect of electing Benedict XVI’s successor. The new Pope will have to have the energy and presence needed in order to tackle the big challenges the Church faces.

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