Monday, March 18, 2013

Cardinal Angelo Scola betrayed by the Italians from the very first vote

The tide was turned by old grudges and the bond with the CL movement

Vatican City, - Already on Tuesday it looked as though things could get complicated for the cardinals’ top favourite, Scola. A few moments after the extra omnes and the meditation in the Sistine Chapel, Bergoglio surprisingly and very suddenly obtained the largest number of votes. At the first ballot, however, the votes were too scattered for cardinals to get a truly indicative picture. Still, it was a warning sign to the Archbishop of Milan, who was credited with such chances of victory yesterday, that just minutes from the Proto-Deacon’s announcement, an unfortunate statement by the Secretary General of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) expressed "the feelings of the entire Italian Church in welcoming the news of the election of Cardinal Angelo Scola as the successor of Peter."

Scola's path to the Holy Throne was blocked by the confluence of two alliances and of two distinctly different evaluation systems: the non-European one (South America in particular), on the one hand, planned on bringing the papacy out of the old continent for the first time. On the other hand, there was the Curia group led by the nemesis-allegiance of Bertone and Sodano, who are inexorably hostile to Scola. The reason, according to certain voices in the Holy See, are a series of "ancient envies and rivalries”. Bertone has never forgotten the advice that Scola gave to the Pope during a meeting in Castel Gandolfo during the upheaval over the pardon granted to Holocaust-denier Bishop Williamson: his replacement at the helm of the Secretariat of State. Sodano, on the other hand, found himself on opposing sides from Scola in various power struggles for the control of Catholic institutions. Ruini himself, while esteeming Scola, gave no indications to vote in his favour to the conclavists, like the Australian Pell, who asked to visit him before the Conclave. In short, the 28 Italian voters did not all row in the same direction and so they dashed their chances of installing one of their compatriots to Peter's Throne 35 years after Luciani.

Not even among the residential Italian archbishops was there a complete consensus for Scola, and therefore the votes that many European voters cast in his favour no longer sufficed. Furthermore, the conclavists near the community of Sant'Egidio (Sepe, for example) could not look kindly upon Scola's involvement in a movement so different from theirs as the Communion and Liberation (CL) one. In the last few hours there were signs that Scola's strong candidacy was a giant with clay feet. In other words, everybody recognized his exceptional stature as a Bishop and intellectual, but then, digging a little deeper, beyond the circumstancial phrases, separations and reserves began to crop up. Most of all, the idea of an "overseas flight" became more prevalent, which was undermining the opportunity to fall back on a Italian pontificate, as most of the Church's growth is in South America, Africa, and Asia. "There cannot always be a shepherd upstream with a flock downstream", summarized an African cardinal in the congregation.


Vatican Insider

Giacomo Galeazzi
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