Sep 062010
Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, 'the Little Ratzinger'

Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, 'the Little Ratzinger'

During the last 5 days I have had two separate correspondences, one from I think Spain and the other from an aspiring seminarian (currently in College) in the US,  listing Spanish curial Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera,  the ‘Little Ratzinger,‘ as a papabile. One was a comment on this blog while the other was in a papabili listing that is going through its final ‘scrub.’ Antonio Cañizares Llovera, as a 51 year old bishop, started working with Cardinal Ratzinger (the now pope) at the influential and authoritative Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (at one point known as the Holy Office and prior to that the ‘Roman and Universal Inquisition’) in 1996. This was when the similarity of their doctrinal postures came to be noticed. There is also some physical resemblance having to do with the white hair and the glasses. Hence the ‘Little Ratzinger’ moniker, the pope being aware of (and supposedly even amused by) it.

Anu's Piper

Anu's Piper, January 1, 2003

Within those same 5 days, I had another comment, on my WordPress PAPAM blog, asking me what I thought of Scottish Cardinal  Keith Michael Patrick O’Brien as a papbile? To say that I, a man that claims to have his own piper, is biased when it comes to anything Scottish, is wee bit of an understatement.

Both of these picks were ‘out-of-the-box’ picks. Both European, one who appears to be to Benedict XVI (#266) what Benedict XVI was to John Paul II (#265), while the other though he looks hearty, has a pace maker. One, as the head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, as of December 2008, is gaining significant recognition among his peers, while the other as the Archbishop of St. Andrews can provide unparalleled golfing access. Alas, the golfing might be Cardinal O’Brien’s strongest suite — albeit, diluted, by his pace maker. Totally independently, Father John of the papabili and cardinalabili list fame, and I, commented that the only way that Cardinal O’Brien is likely to get many votes is if he had been an extremely generous golfing host in the past! But, after John Paul I (#264) there is going to be reluctance to elect a pope with known heart trouble, though he is relatively young. He has also earned a reputation for being ‘controversial’ and ‘undiplomatic.’ I fear that all of these count heavily against him, not to mention that a pope from Britain, at this stage in Church dynamics (with the clergy sex abuse scandal still an open sore), might not be optimum.

Computer created sketch of Scottish Cardinal Keith Michael Patrick O'Brien

Computer created sketch of Scottish Cardinal Keith Michael Patrick O'Brien

But, there is the pope’s forthcoming trip to the UK, starting on Sept. 16. << check this post >> This trip could prove to be beneficial to Cardinal O’Brien … but I still come back to the pace maker. I find it hard to categorize him as anything other than a marginal, 2nd tier papabile. It is a shame, but that is how the cards appear to stack up. But, to be on the safe side, I decided to check what Paddy Power thought of him. They, being inordinately Irish, like me, tend to cut slack for anything from the Celtic 7 Nations. But they had him at #41, at 66::1 — way behind even the likes of Ghanaian Peter K. A. Turkson at #33 and Indian, Ivan Dias at #30. C’est la vie.

I have been doing a fair amount of thinking about Antonio Cañizares Llovera. I gave him at least 10 minutes of quality think time during my 40-45 minute run this morning. [I run real slow.] He has a number of indubitable ‘pluses’ — though some possibly double-edged. That he is so much in sync with Benedict XVI and John Paul II, in being a traditionalist, has to make him popular among his peers, most of whom are also traditionalist, though some more so than others. But, as I articulated in my ‘The Next Pope,’ it is hoped that the cardinal electors, despite their own leanings, MAY decide that it would be best to elect a ‘moderate’ to rejuvenate the Church following what has been turbulent times. Since 1978 the Church has been ruled by traditionalist popes. So, the electors may decide to opt for some change. That would count against Cardinal Cañizares. But, if the electorate, stubbornly obdurate, decide that they want to continue with the John Paul II agenda, then Cañizares, as well as my #3 papabili, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, are in good standing — with some saying that Cardinal Ouellet stands a better chance than the Spainiard.

That, viz. Spain, is the other plus. Given that it is now over 500 years ago, I think it is safe to assume that the Borgia stigma can now be discounted, the infamous, debauched Alexander (‘Borja’) VI (#215) having been the last pope from Spain. The only other pope from Spain having been his uncle, Callistus III (#210) — who wasn’t exactly a paragon of virtue either. Given that he is the ‘Little Ratzinger,’ the chances are low that if indeed elected, he would surprise all by announcing that he is going to make the Borgia Apartment the new Papal residence. So, basically we can rule out a ‘veto’ on Spain based on past history.

But being Spanish gives Cardinal Cañizares a vicarious Latin American connection — this being the rationale for me having the older, Portuguese Cardinal Policarpo as #10 in my papabili list. The notion of a Latin American pope, or at a minimum Marc Ouellet as a pope from the Americas, is gaining popularity (and I sometimes wonder whether it was my papabili list in December 2008 that got this ball rolling). But, as I also articulated in my book, the electors may, when push comes to shove, have difficultly crossing the Atlantic in one mighty bound. They might decide that they want to go Westward but Spain or Portugal is fine as the first step. That is my compromise Latin American scenario for Cardinal Cañizares. His age is also spot on. So this is a name that we need to now watch.

P.S., Paddy Power has him at #27 at 25::1 — ten places behind Cardinal Ouellet.

P.P.S., A cardinal with a pace maker got me thinking. The Church as we know, with the unique exception of the soon to be John Paul I, condemned the the first ‘test tube baby,’ the British Louise Brown (July 25, 1978). The Church continues to condemn in vitro fertilization as a grave, evil act. But, in vitro is not genetical engineering and could just involve the necessary ‘body parts’ from a married couple. If so, where do you draw the line. Pace maker, IVF for married couples. A cardinal with a pace maker.

Anura Guruge

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