The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

3 April 2005

Down in the Conclave

I had just finished one year in a Catholic grade school when Pope John XXIII died, so you can be sure that we were steeped in the rules and regulations of replacing a Pontiff, at least to the extent it was possible to explain these things to someone just out of the fourth grade. And they've changed somewhat over the years — John Paul II himself made the last few alterations in 1996 — but given the Church's devotion to ritual, the basics are essentially unaltered.

One thing that's changed in the last forty years is the restriction of voting for the new Pope to cardinals under the age of 80. (Eleven of the 13 American cardinals meet this requirement.)

Father Thomas J. Reese explains the transition and election process here. Reese's prediction is interesting:

I think the next pope will be a cardinal between 62 and 72 years of age, who speaks Italian and English and reflects John Paul's positions (liberal on social justice and peace, traditional in church teaching and practice, and ecumenical but convinced the church has the truth) but has a very different personality and is a supporter of less centralization in the church and therefore probably not a curial cardinal.

The Curia is the Vatican bureaucracy, which includes nearly a quarter of the cardinals.

And it's unseemly to make side bets on the outcome of the Conclave, but if I have a favorite, it's probably Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa; he's fairly close to Father Reese's criteria (he's 62), and there is reportedly some substantial sentiment among the cardinals to pick someone outside Europe.

Posted at 9:49 AM to Immaterial Witness

TrackBack: 4:34 AM, 4 April 2005
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Of course, the big question now is who is going to be the next pope. I have made my preference known almost a month ago, though I am afraid that instead of a pope, Ratzinger might in the end become the pope-maker,...[read more]

Maradiaga is a bit too young? (and a bit of a Radical, no?) It is said that the Conclave might choose someone older, for a shorter papacy this time; I root for Ratzinger.

Posted by: Lemuel Kolkava at 3:53 AM on 4 April 2005

I like Ratzinger. Certainly, his tenure as Grand Inquisitor Head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith insures that he's going to stick close to the catechism. But being a member of the Curia, I think, will ultimately count against him, and I keep thinking that they'll go not only outside Rome but outside Europe for the next Pontiff.

Posted by: CGHill at 7:45 AM on 4 April 2005

Actually, Rodriguez may have other baggage besides relative youth. From Michelle Malkin:

And here's a worrisome reminder that one of the top officials rumored to be on the short list to succeed the Pope, Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez of Honduras, reportedly sheltered a fugitive priest accused of child molestation.
Posted by: McGehee at 9:02 AM on 4 April 2005

Whoops, that excerpt was supposed to include this link to the "worrisome reminder" she's talking about. My bad.

Posted by: McGehee at 9:03 AM on 4 April 2005

I'd say that qualifies as worrisome.

Posted by: CGHill at 9:09 AM on 4 April 2005

I should mention that Brian J. Noggle has acknowledged that he is not likely to be selected by the Conclave, perhaps because he will upset the careful equilibrium that informs the question "Is the Pope Catholic?"

Posted by: CGHill at 9:15 AM on 4 April 2005