Monday, February 11, 2013

Who will be the next Pope?

As news of the surprise resignation of Pope Benedict XVI reverberates around the world, the lights are going out all over Europe - or at least in the offices of the Telegraph. It is indeed an act of considerable humility - indeed, kenotic and Christ-like - to resign such high and exalted office. By doing so, Pope Benedict XVI has sealed his place in history as one of the great reformers. No longer will popes need to drool on unto death: there is now precedent for an alternative to second childishness and papal oblivion.

Pope Benedict XVI has been the most searing intellect to occupy the Chair of St Peter for at least a couple of centuries, and the vacuum he leaves will be immense. It was an enormous blessing to the Church that his pontificate coincided with the archepiscopacy of Rowan Williams: together they were theological giants in a sea of prelate pygmies.

But Pope Benedict is not dead: some may be cracking out the Valium and Prozac or knocking back the Scotch, but the world is not in mourning. While canon lawyers will now determine how he should be styled in his retirement (Papa Emeritus?), the world's eyes naturally turn to his successor, and this haste is by no means unseemly (except for those now wallowing in depression). It is astonishing to think that the forthcoming Conclave of Cardinals - most of whom owe their positions to Pope Benedict - will gather to make their decision while the living-ghost of their holy patron looms large. He will not be in the Conclave, of course, for he is not a cardinal. He is also over 80 years old, which precludes him voting in any case.

Another person specifically excluded from voting in the Lenten (apt timing) Conclave on the grounds of advancing years is Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor. Since Archbishop Vincent Nichols does not (yet) have a red hat, for the first time in the modern era Mary's Dowry will have no vote on who will be elected the next Pope. There is a certain delicious irony in this, for the Roman Catholic Bishops of England & Wales have been - how shall we say - a little obstructive in implementing the Benedictine reforms, especially those relating to liturgy. This is unlikely to have played any part in the timing of the Pope's decision, of course, because it would seem awfully petty and vindictive, and he just isn't like that.

His Grace received a kind offer from Roseanna Cunningham MSP for Scotland to speak and vote on behalf of England in the Conclave, but that doesn't seem very appropriate given their quest to leave the United Kingdom. His Grace is quite sure that the Holy Spirit will get on just fine without an English cardinal, rather like the European Union would get along swimmingly without the UK.

So, who will be the next Pope? His Grace once favoured Cardinal Schönborn of Vienna, but he seems to have blown it, especially given the likely welcoming In-Tray. There's some muttering about Cardinal Dolan of New York, but a US pope isn't very likely in an age of American hegemony: one needs to maintain a balance of powers. Some are calling for a Latin American or an African pope, and the first black pope would be symbolic indeed.
But notable Roman Catholic author Michael Walsh isn't at all persuaded of that. Indeed, in an outrageous interview for BBC News, he said that the election of a cardinal from either region was to be avoided at all costs, for they would 'change the nature of the church'. This is nothing but blatant racism. His preference is for an Italian, who must be, he says, the Bishop of Rome. This myopic eurocentric mindset isn't very catholic at all. Indeed, this 'Catholic spokesman' appears not to appreciate that his church claims catholicity: there is no reason at all that the next pope could not be African or Latin American. If such a man were to 'change the nature of the church', it would be all to the good, if only to root out these sorts of obnoxious and profoundly un-Christian beliefs.  

There's a very neat summary of the key runners and riders HERE. On betting odds (not that His Grace endorses such a practice), we have Paddy Power (presently) favouring Cardinal Mark Ouellet of Canada, and William Hill favouring Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria. These will, of course, change with the money. Sadly, His Grace is not eligible to stand, since his holy orders are 'absolutely null and utterly void'. The prospect of Pope Richard Dawkins, however, with current odds of 666/1, is highly amusing.


Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

The Inspector’s wish list includes continuing rolling back of Vatican II and vacating the private area in marriage which is the bedroom. For neither is every sperm sacred, nor every egg divine.

From the areas of Walsh’s no go statement, and it will come to no ones surprise that the Inspector FULLY agrees with, he would add North America and the antipodes. Plus any hermit residing in a cave, whose type has also in the past been considered.

One would like to see a leader from a religious order up front. A prior general or abbot of a foundation abbey. And remember this, not being a cardinal is no bar to the appointment.

11 February 2013 at 16:50  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Inspector,

Aside from being Catholic and male, what exactly are the qualifications for being Pope? Could you be Pope or would you have to be ordained? Could Archbishop Welby become Pope?

11 February 2013 at 16:53  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Well, regardless, if I were to choose, my nominations are :

1. Father Brown
2. Father Dowling
3. Father Crilly

Of course I'd go for no 3- Irish, likes a drink, smokes, is down to earth, funny, but takes his faith seriously (sort of).


11 February 2013 at 16:58  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Also Paddy Power (which his Grace links to) gave odds of 1,000 to 1 that singer BONO would become Pope (at least they did this AM). Same odds as my number 3, above!

11 February 2013 at 17:00  
Blogger Corrigan said...

In theory, any male Catholic, ordained or not, could become Pope; in practice, it is restricted to ordained cardinals under 80 years of age. I say "ordained cardinals" because historically there have been laymen appointed as cardinals. I think the only lay cardinal today is the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta.

11 February 2013 at 17:02  
Blogger Unheard Melodies said...

Just a thought: are @His_Grace's orders truly null and void? Surely he was ordained a Roman Catholic?

11 February 2013 at 17:08  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Quite Corrigan, the most important attribute being MALE, and there is absolutely NOTHING the ECHR can do about it !

heh heh !

Secularists, and culture Marxists, up yours !

11 February 2013 at 17:11  
Blogger Damian said...

Pope Benedict XVI has been the most searing intellect to occupy the Chair of St Peter for at least a couple of centuries, and the vacuum he leaves will be immense. It was an enormous blessing to the Church that his pontificate coincided with the archepiscopacy of Rowan Williams: together they were theological giants in a sea of prelate pygmies.

Are not these the the two that rolled over and died so as not to offend muslims? I cannot recall either speaking out on behalf of the thousands of Christians being persecuted by muslims.

These you call theological giants?

Tell you what Cranmer, I do not think the church can stand many more of these blessings.

11 February 2013 at 17:14  
Blogger Corrigan said...

He'd have to go to confession first, heh heh...

11 February 2013 at 17:15  
Blogger IanCad said...

OIG wrote:

" And remember this, not being a cardinal is no bar to the appointment."

How interesting! I've been trying to get an answer to that very question and here it pops up. Thanks.

That being the case there may be more to the recent chastisement of Cardinal Roger Mahony by Archbishop Jose Gomez (Los Angeles) than meets the eye. To be sure, an action like that would have to be approved at the highest level.

Gomez is a top ranker. Conservative darling of Opus Dei, a traditionalist, relatively young and able to command a huge audience.

Isn't it about time for an American Pope?

11 February 2013 at 17:30  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

So it is not so much about knowledge of Christian law and theology, but who is ordained as a Cardinal, so what if Tony Blair was ordained as a Cardinal in the next 2 weeks -could he become the Pope?

11 February 2013 at 17:33  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

IanCad a non European pope is the type of experiment you take when all is in order with the RCC. When it’s in its glory days. So, blame the Inspector’s natural conservatism for not jumping up and down on that one...

11 February 2013 at 17:39  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Hannah: "Also Paddy Power (which his Grace links to) gave odds of 1,000 to 1 that singer BONO would become Pope (at least they did this AM)."

Would he be the first person to be made pope after his sainthood?

11 February 2013 at 17:42  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Danjo,

Oh my faith has no 'saints', so I'll leave it to the Cyber Swiss Guard to pass comment on Saint Bono...

11 February 2013 at 18:02  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Strangely, the Most Popular / Read box in the bottom right of BBC News has "Man holding chips fights off attack" in pole position, and "Pope Benedict in shock resignation" is down in third place.

11 February 2013 at 18:05  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

According to St Malachy's papal prophecies, the next Pope is to be called Peter (perhaps Turkson?) and is the last one before the apocalypse.

11 February 2013 at 18:08  
Blogger Julia Gasper said...

Presumably the choice of the figure 666/1 for Richard Dawkins is an apocalyptic allusion?

11 February 2013 at 18:19  
Blogger Julia Gasper said...

I think Justin Bieber should be made Pope. Plenty of mileage in him - and all the right principles!

11 February 2013 at 18:24  
Blogger Darter Noster said...


Given his Messianic pretensions when lecturing Churches in and out of office, I suspect Blair would view becoming Pope as a demotion.

11 February 2013 at 18:35  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11 February 2013 at 19:18  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

Your Grace,

"This myopic eurocentric mindset isn't very catholic at all."

This situation is ironic, for the potentially racialist and Jew haters out there, given the Christian faith says that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah and that the first Pope was a married Jewish fisherman from Israel .... who'd have thought it Mr Walsh (and Mr Corrigan)?

PS- I agree with Hannah. Hopefully the next Pope will be into interfaith dialogue and as down to earth as Father Ted and as wise and discerning as Father Brown.

11 February 2013 at 19:21  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Speaking of Father Ted, this is going around Facebook at the moment, channelling the current Internet meme. :)

11 February 2013 at 19:33  
Blogger bluedog said...

Your Grace, after scanning the form guide, your communicant concludes that Angelo Bagnasco has a certain thin-lipped malevolence that readers of Dan Brown will immediately recognise and appreciate.

Let's hear it for Angelo!

11 February 2013 at 19:34  
Blogger Old Blue Eyes said...

David Kavanagh - Is Father Brown one of Mrs Brown's boys?

11 February 2013 at 19:37  
Blogger Mike Stallard said...

I went to Lincoln theological college in the 1970s and was treated to the dog end of German modernism.

The huge achievement of this German Pope was to knock the thing on the head and bury it forever. His books for the general reader have been outstanding devotional reading - scholarly, terse, unsentimental, rigorously scholarly and a pleasure to read.

11 February 2013 at 19:56  
Blogger Don Henri said...

Your grace, you were a Catholic Bishop before committing the delict of schism. Your orders are valid, as you were concecrated a Catholic Bishop, in the communion of Rome, using the appointed ordinal, by Bishop John Longlands of Lincoln with Bishops John Veysey of Exeter, and Henry Standish of Saint Asaph acting as co-consecrators.

+ pax et bonum

11 February 2013 at 20:36  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Don Henri

Yes but he married secretly in 1532, breaking his sacred vow of celibacy. This sin was compounded later that same year when he was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury.

Not the sort of chap the Catholic Cardinals of this day and age are ever likely to elect as Pope.

11 February 2013 at 21:34  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

The Vatican has announced that they have already received more than 20 CV's from BBC presenters from the 1970s

11 February 2013 at 22:06  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

"But notable Roman Catholic author Michael Walsh ..."


Certainly known for his views on limiting the power and universal authority of the Papacy. Of course he wants an Italian elected. He also wants the Italian to be the Bishop of Rome - not the Pontiff of the world wide Catholic Church.

He wants the Pope to be democratically accountable, for God's sake! He wants the 'message' to be modernised, more palatable and more liberal.

11 February 2013 at 22:11  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Very naughty, Marie!

11 February 2013 at 22:12  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

Yes, but funny Dodo.

11 February 2013 at 23:32  
Blogger Julia Gasper said...

Maybe to some people.

11 February 2013 at 23:50  
Blogger The Way of Dodo said...

Granted, Marie.

12 February 2013 at 00:38  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

It would be nice to have a French speaking Pope but if not the real thing ..Canadian French will have to suffice I suppose.

12 February 2013 at 01:38  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

Forgive me; but am I alone in seeing the face of Silvio Berlusconi in the picture?

12 February 2013 at 08:09  
Blogger IanCad said...

Thanks for that D. Singh.

It looked familiar but I couldn't place it at all.

12 February 2013 at 08:36  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Goodness! At matins yesterday I noticed Mr. Slope was wearing red socks...what could it mean?

12 February 2013 at 09:31  
Blogger English Pensioner said...

Personally, I prefer the Mac cartoon in today's Mail
Shows the gathering of Cardinals with the caption
'He's right you know - we've never had a Pope Tony.'

12 February 2013 at 10:00  
Blogger lojolondon said...

I never met Rowan Williams, but my personal belief is that he did the church a great deal of harm, too much thinking and not enough doing. When you can always see the other side's point of view, that is nice for a priest, but not for a leader. We need someone who will say "Muslims in the Middle east must stop genocide against Christians", not "well, I can see why Muslims want to fight us".

Maybe he can, but that has nothing to do with his role. He has let us all down, no-one more than Christians living in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Sudan etc. (imagine how they feel with their church burnt, priest beheaded and families killed, to hear the church of England saying that we should see the killers point of view).

12 February 2013 at 10:15  
Blogger John Chater said...

A good point lojolondon, the persecuted church is the elephant in the room whenever the great and the good get together to discuss such important issues as the plight of women in the church or gay communicants. One wonders what it will take to get them to speak out publically – obviously more than the atrocities you refer to.

12 February 2013 at 12:02  
Blogger Odin's Raven said...

Great picture of Berlusconi, your Grace. Maybe he would accept the job if it provides improved contacts with banksters and mafiosi.

13 February 2013 at 00:32  
Blogger John Knox's lovechild said...

I am always surprised at the number of prods, agnostics, atheists and associated hangers on who feel compelled to comment on the affairs of the Catholic Church.

I don't remember too many Catholics, globally as it were, commenting on who would be the next Archbish of Canterbury.

This would be because in their guts the prods etc know the papacy matters and the other show doesn't, well not very much, I suppose.

13 February 2013 at 15:45  
Blogger len said...

Perhaps it is because the Catholic Church reveals Satan`s end time plans
John Knox`s Love child?.

16 February 2013 at 08:18  
Blogger Hauptmann Dodo said...

With you around len, who needs the Catholic Church?

I mean, you know it all.

16 February 2013 at 19:03  
Blogger StevieD said...

Interesting that when the Pope asked for prayers for his successor last Sunday, he did so in the Spanish language. Was he hinting that his preferred candidate is a Spanish speaker? Watch out for Cardinal Llovara - who would get my vote.

18 February 2013 at 17:51  

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