Will the next pope be Italian?

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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.

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  • mamamiamia

    Hula ko Italian siya.  Hala, kung hinde, di magkakatutoo ang hula ni St. Malachy, na Petrus Romanus (Peter the Roman) ang susunod sa “Glory of the Olives (Pope Benedict XVI).  Naku!!!  Let’s see sa March Conclave. May among the candidates na Cardinal na Pietro ang name at Italian siya (born sa Romano Canavese, Italy)and favorite ni Pope Benedict XVI and most important of all mataas ang katungkulan sa Vatican. Naku! Mag- rosario na tayo mga hija!

  • dxdaistar

    the next pope could be a Filipina! este a Filipino!

  • Noel

    No.  Not Italian.  He may be connected to the Italian Mafia.

    • Crazy_horse101010

      true some cardinals come from mafia families. that way the help each other.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/SPLUBLEOSERDBOIJTDOC6XIWGU mxsclxmxn

        DEMONYO BUMALIK KA SA IMPIERNO!

  • virgoyap

    Italian again?? Enough is enough!!

  • geminimind

    The person who said “must have an open mind”is the person to qualify for papacy.
    Brazil or Africa

  • Horst Manure

    Does not matter who it is as long as they stop child rapists and help the poor, not them selves.

  • MULEN

    Papabile, the word describing a strong papal candidate, sounds like the word that describes a sexual predator preying on children.

  • joerizal

    The faithful can only speculate because they have no say in this “election”. Just goes to show the Catholic Church still lives in the dark ages. Even though many countries have a dog in this fight, it still boils down to who this clique approves as their next leader. 

  • wakats

    All leads point to an Italian or European to succeed Pope Benedict XVI.

    Their majority bloc of 62 members or 53% of the 117-member Papal Conclave is a major factor to reckon with.

    The question is not much on the successor but on how soon will the Catholic Church self-destruct?

     

    • crusader1234

      Wakats,

      The Catholic Church has survived military attacks (Napoleon,the communists, the medieval Turkish Moslems in the battle of Lepanto, etc, etc), attacks from within (morally corrupt, heretical or schismatic priests and bishops), intelligentsia attacks (from the media, movies, intellectuals) and of course attacks from Satan himself in one way of other, for the past 2000 years, and yet  the church is still here!   Everyone in history who dreamed of the destruction of the Church is now dead, but the Church is still here. If this alone does not convince you that the Catholic Church is the One and True Church, and protected by God Himself for all time, as Christ Himself promised He would do, I don’t know what will.
      Keep talking about the Church’s destruction. When your predictions inevitably also fail to come true, like the predictions of countless others in history, your failed words will be one more testimony to the truth of the Catholic Church.

  • 615sophia

    he should be…and call him peter the roman….according to the prophecy of st. malachy to find out if he is really the last pope ….then faith will succumb fear…and all is well……

  • buttones

    Next Pope an Italian? Might be, I’ll bet one thing for sure- one- he’ll be a Catholic, and two- he’ll be a man…. It would be refreshing to see a black woman as Pope, that’d shake ‘em up!

    • ARIKUTIK

      Next Pope will be a creature past the golden age of a man, that he can not be considered as man still but one elevated into Spiritual human form as in a genderless creature in the eye of a woman.
      The cry of suffering, cursing it’s own existence is heard than prayers of self praising creatures. The rich said “We care, drink this RH poison pills to end your sufferings”. The oppresed creatures are crying to God not to the rich crocodile man who made them poor. The rich detest the filthty poor as unworthy creatures meant to be eradicated. The Pwesident of the rich concocted > Ram into their mouth the RH poison pill. Why should we give bread to those poor. Make them vanish from our sight. Impose a law, RH poison pill is food for the poor but tasty bread is only for us. An Abnoy rule is now the law of the land. The suffering poor can cry only to God.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/SPLUBLEOSERDBOIJTDOC6XIWGU mxsclxmxn

      Demon relax! Your religion was just founded yesterday by your pastor!

      Long way to go to catch up! Any progress on the 10%?

  • boybakal

    Will the next pope be Italian?….Probably, Italiangilocano.

  • boybakal

    Will the next pope be Italian?…

    Enough of this….always Italian, German, Polish.
    Time to have Pope who is Ilocano, Batangueno or Bisaya.

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