Quantcast
Latest Stories

Will the next pope be Italian?


Picture taken on February 11, 2013 shows a newspapers seller displaying copies of the Vatican’s newspaper, the Osservatore Romano, with the frontpage dedicated to the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI at a newstand at the Vatican. AFP FILE PHOTO

VATICAN CITY— After a Pole and a German, will the Roman Catholic Church revert to an Italian leader once again?

Italy has the biggest voting bloc in the conclave to elect the next pope, with 28 of the 117 cardinal electors, but only one Italian, Milan Archbishop Angelo Scola, is widely seen as “papabile”, or a strong candidate to succeed Benedict XVI.

Many cardinals oppose the idea of adding to the long line of Italians who preceded the back-to-back foreign popes, John Paul II of Poland and the German Benedict.

The last pope before John Paul II who did not hail from the Italian peninsula was Adrian VI, from the bishopric of Utrecht who died in 1523.

The “Vatileaks” scandal has tarnished the reputation of the Italians in the Curia, as the Vatican government is known, by exposing intense power struggles among them.

On the other hand, the scandal underscored the need for urgent reforms, which could suggest the need for leadership by an insider who knows the ropes.

Although Scola is not an insider, his elevation from patriarch of Venice to run the Milan archdiocese – Europe’s biggest and one that has produced several past pontiffs – could be seen as a launchpad for the papacy.

Even before the pope’s shock resignation announcement on February 11, the square-jawed, no-nonsense Scola was mentioned as a favourite of Benedict’s and of sufficient intellectual stature to succeed him.

Highly cultivated and morally conservative, the 71-year-old son of a truck driver is in the same theological mould as Benedict, with a nuanced view of the Second Vatican Council reforms of the 1960s that insists on continuity with tradition.

Scola has since his youth been associated with a conservative movement, Communion and Liberation, which is highly influential in Italy.

He has been on the front lines of some of Benedict’s main battles, for example fighting rising secularism in Europe.

He slammed France in December as the parliament debated legislation to allow gay marriage which is fiercely opposed by the Church.

“The supposedly neutral state is far from it, adopting a specific culture, which through legislation becomes the dominant culture,” he said.

And in a bid to combat Islamophobia, Scola founded Oasis, a respected magazine of Islamo-Christian thought.

On the downside for Scola is his reputation for being somewhat dry and unapproachable — a bit isolated, and more conservative than his predecessors in Milan.

Two other Italians are seen as possibles: Gianfranco Ravasi, the Vatican’s culture secretary, and Mauro Piacenza, head of the powerful Congregation for the Clergy.

The media-friendly Ravasi is brimming with ideas and initiatives, open and friendly, as well as cerebral – capable of evoking an early Church father, Jean-Paul Sartre and a Hindu mystic in the same speech.

One of the first prelates to embrace Twitter, he teamed up with Benedict to create a series of encounters with non-believing intellectuals, the Court of the Gentiles.

Conservative in some ways and modern in others, Ravasi was selected to preside over Benedict’s last spiritual exercises for Lent this year.

On the first day of these meditations, the 70-year-old cardinal created a stir by citing a letter from the parents of a baby with a fatal illness that he had just received: “A cry of suffering that we would deem blasphemous on the surface is often heard more attentively by God than many prayers” at Sunday mass, he told the cardinals.

Benedict XVI appreciates such audacious thinking and warmly thanked Ravasi for his remarks, making a comment that could be prophetic: “The Lord will reward you for this work, which you have performed brilliantly.”

On the other hand Ravasi is seen as too intellectual and not sufficiently down to earth.

Piacenza, 68, is another Italian who enjoys the pope’s favour. He is rigorous, very conservative, with a reputation as the hardest worker in the Curia, but more often tipped to replace the Vatican number two Tarcisio Bertone than to become the next pope.

But if an Italian emerges from next month’s conclave as pope, it is likely not to be thanks to the “Italian bloc” of cardinals – as they are far from united.

There is a “tribal aspect among the Italians”, Vatican expert John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter told AFP.


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Benedict XVI , Catholic Church , Milan Archbishop Angelo Scola , Religion




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  2. SC suspends proctor in 2011 bar exams
  3. What Went Before: Enrile denies Gigi Reyes was ‘other woman’
  4. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  5. Solons seek ample protection for bank depositors
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  8. Massive infra spending set
  9. Tragedies at sea: The Sewol and the Costa Concordia
  10. Santiago: Gigi Reyes is Enrile’s fall guy
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  5. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  6. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  7. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  8. Massive infra spending set
  9. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  10. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  8. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  9. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
Advertisement

News

  • Divers begin pulling bodies from sunken ferry in Korea
  • Aquino: ‘Doubting Thomases’ now contributing to PH recovery
  • Fire engulfs apartments in Sampaloc
  • Messy warehouse belongs to Unicef, WFP, says Soliman
  • Suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels release hostage
  • Sports

  • Warriors beat Clippers in playoff opener
  • Pacquiao top Mayweather contender
  • Rain or Shine, Ginebra clash for No. 6 spot
  • Ateneo eyes quarterfinal spot vs Benilde
  • Style contrast marks OneFC ‘Rise of Heroes’
  • Lifestyle

  • Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s ‘official’ photographer: ‘I could smell the aftershave lotion of the Pope’
  • Simplifying and lightening life
  • Where to go for Easter night-out
  • Joe de Venecia visits the Queen Mother of Cambodia
  • Fashionistas flock to designer’s wedding
  • Entertainment

  • Show-biz celebrities’ other choices of summer getaway
  • Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters
  • Acclaimed artist goes wild while on holiday
  • Believing in this mermaid
  • Missing Xian
  • Business

  • Top-selling insurance agent opens her dream café
  • Connecting and transacting with one another
  • Building wealth for health
  • Why Mandaue Foam buys, rather than rents, space
  • A workplace of new possibilities
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Epiphany
  • Unpaid creditor vs distressed debtor
  • Moving on
  • From culinary desert to paradise
  • Response to China: ‘Usjaphil’
  • Global Nation

  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats
  • Cesar Chavez movie sparks memories of Fil-Am labor leaders
  • Filipinos in US poised for success
  • Visas for priests and other faith leaders
  • DOH to continue tracking co-passengers of OFW infected with MERS virus
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement