Nov 282010

by Father Anthony, STL
Sussex, UK

Father Anthony’s initial reflections from attending the November 20, 2010 consistory.

Post consistory PICTURES by Father Anthony.


It is interesting to reflect on the 2005 conclave in that many of the electors will have come to Rome not expecting to chose Cardinal Ratzinger. What happened, I think, was that the experience of taking part in the funeral of John Paul II brought home to them what an extraordinary impact he had made during his nearly 27 years as Pope. The idea of electing a gentle smiling Italian was simply no longer adequate. John Paul had given the Papacy a global dimension and a global presence that made it impossible to elect someone who could not make his presence felt on the global stage. In Cardinal Ratzinger they saw a man of evident spiritual depth, of great erudition and theological learning combined with great courtesy and personal charm. They noticed that he knew them all by name, that he was always ready to listen to them, and that he conducted the affairs of the Sede Vacante with great skill. At the Funeral Mass they also saw his pastoral sensitivity in the manner of his celebration of the Mass.

At the beginning of the conclave there was already a solid block of voters in his favour. It rapidly became clear that his support had grown, and that for the sake of the unity of the Church it would be wise to support his candidature. It was also clear to the cardinals that he was very far removed from the widely spread caricature of “Panzer Cardinal”.

Whenever the next conclave takes place it is unlikely that there will be such a dominant personality in place. There will be a number of men who are well qualified, and, as I see it, no obvious outstanding candidate. Nationality will not, I think, be a major consideration. An Italian could be elected, but only if he were outstanding. I think Cardinal Ravasi might be such a person. Cardinal Scola might be another. Cardinal Amato is mentioned, but I do not think that he would be able to command enough support. Certainly if he were to move the Church on and deal with many of the problems facing the Church at the beginning of this century he would need to be able to “think outside the box” of the Italian culture.

Otherwise I think we are back to a number of men who have combined both Diocesan and Curial experience. Cardinal Scherer of Brazil, Cardinal Ouellet, Cardinal Turkson, are three obvious candidates. I would certainly include Cardinal Schönborn among the papabili. His critical remarks about Cardinal Sodano may well find an echo in many other cardinals who have not felt able to speak out, but who would largely share his views. He is a highly intelligent man, and is very close to Benedict XVI in his general view of the Church. He is, like the Pope, a man of wise judgment and pastoral wisdom.

These are just a few thoughts following my recent visit to Rome. The present Pope looks set to continue an active and very effective ministry for some time to come. The conclave may not happen for some time yet. When it does come it will mark a moment of decision that may not be easy for the Cardinals. The good thing is that we seem to have a good number of men who might be chosen and who might well be well place to move the Church forward.

  5 Responses to “Father Anthony, Post Consistory (Nov. 20, 2010) Notes”

  1. Dear Father,
    I have to say we appear to have remarkable congruence on our papabili predictions — it must be because we are both Brits.
    Father, as I have said before, I NOW have doubts as to whether the NEXT pope will be from Africa. In 2008 I was very bullish on Wilfrid Fox Napier. But, my current druthers is that the US will first have a female president before we see a African pope at the Vatican (but, the first event could occur, per some in the media, as early as 2013!).
    But, as always, I could be dead wrong.
    Father, I am very gung ho on Ouellet and Ravasi and I think I can get 80 votes for Ouellet. You know he has done extensive work in Latin America. He can get the French vote, quite a bit of the conservative votes, some curial votes and initially probably half the US votes. Then if he has about 30 in round #2 or #3, and Scherer and Sandri have less, I can see a ground swell shift from Latin America and the USA to Ouellet — rather than to Ravasi, Scola or Amato. Then he will also get the Asian votes. I haven’t sat down and actually done all the sums. This in my head. Right now I am also favoring Sandri over Scherer because the former is a tad more personable.
    I also have the ‘Little Ratzinger’ high on my list.
    But, who knows.
    Thank you, father.

  2. Dear Father,
    Here is my very tentative, provisional papabili list 2011:
    Ouellet, Ravasi, Sandri, Cañizares Llovera, Scherer, Amato, Schonborn, Antonelli, Amato, Barbarin.
    I really haven’t done a proper study as yet.
    I have had real bad ‘bronchitis’ (a bi-annual production, but this time worse than ever) episode for over a month. On my second round of antibiotics — and this is the good stuff, in addition to all the other medication. They did an X-ray, Friday. They didn’t like it. Want me to get a Cat-Scan this week. Not good. None of the words that mention are good. So I am not firing on all cylinders and the wife insists that I come to bed by 10:15 and at least read in bed, than working on the computer till past mid-night. So not getting much done. Plus priorities have kind of changed.
    Maybe that adage from John Paul II’s lengthy papacy is RIGHT: ‘the pope invariably outlives those that speculate about his successors!’

  3. Dear Marko,
    What would I ever DO without the likes of you. THANK YOU. This is great. I really have not, alas, had time to study this aspect. Been too busy with just Rome.
    Hope you are doing well.

  4. Dear Marko,
    I was thinking …
    Marko, I hope you saw this brief presentation on the history of conclaves.
    So, this is what I was thinking.
    Would it be possible, for YOU to put together a similar, SHORT presentation with time lines and tables showing how election of the Coptic Patriarch evolved from the time of the ‘separation’ … and maybe relate back to what was happening in Rome … like the INTRODUCTION of conclaves.
    Again, as with your recent scholarly article, I will publish it in YOUR NAME.
    Father Pater may be interested in helping you. Or he could enhance your work.
    What do YOU think.
    I would be fascinated.
    Thank YOU, Marko.

  5. Dear Father Anthony,
    Thank you. We are blessed to have your expertise and insights.
    The other ‘father’ you refer to, the one that knows Cardinal Schonborn very well, is Father Peter of Vienna. He, like you, is very knowledgeable and gracious with it. He has provided us with lots of data — such as all non-bishop cardinals since 1917. Father Peter
    belong to an archdiocese which is in communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
    He typically checks this blog quite often. So he may see this and join the dialogue. I also knew a young frater, from Sri Lanka, in an Austrian monastery, who knew the cardinal well. [He, the frater, was also on their best selling Chant CD — and he sent me a copy.] Since us Sri Lankans are known for our heartfelt hospitality, this young frater had been assigned the job of taking care of the cardinal whenever he visited the monastery. So he met him many time. He liked the cardinal very much. Thought he was kind, astute and holy.
    Dear Father, with all due respect to ALL PARTIES, the Dalai Lama and the pope hold very different stations. Despite what the ‘unwashed masses’ may think, the Dali Lama is not a major figure in Buddhism. I had never heard of the Dalai Lama when I lived in Ceylon and nobody had more daily indoctrination to Buddhism than I did. I woke up with Buddhist priests, including a few ‘chiefs’ [e.q., bishops], visiting our house at 7am to meet with my father and I usually went to sleep after having come back from a temple, having accompanied my father to some meeting with monks. My father was instrumental in creating a Buddhist university in Sri Lanka. As for those 7am visits. Buddhism, as I was taught, was all about reincarnation (which is why at 18, while in Swansea I renounced being a Buddhist). Reincarnation, per Anu (and I am actually quite an expert, even if I say so), is like maintaining a bank account. You have to keep the account in the black. Good acts give you merits, positive points while bad acts, sins, take away points. Only problem, Buddhist being lackadaisical unlike good Catholics, is that there is no printed list of what the points are. So we each make up our own points … bit like keeping track of your runs in cricket.
    So, per the Anu scale, eating an egg was -5 — though this was something arbitrarily instilled into young minds by ambitious chief monks. Well, I used to be strictly carnivorous in my youth. Didn’t eat fruits and vegetables. Just rice, lentils, eggs, meat and fish. I used to eat at least 2 eggs a day. So each day, I was -10 just on the eggs (and this was also BEFORE the hormones kicked in … …. and that is a whole different story).
    Buddhist monks, when visiting, will only sit on chairs that are covered in a WHITE SHEET to ‘protect’ them from those that have sat their before. [The white is a coincidence, most things in Buddhism gravitating to white.]
    So putting that white sheet on a seat for a monk to sit on … was LOTS of points. In my book, at least 15.
    So we had a deal. Yes, I confess. We had servants. They would wake me up to tell me that we had monks visiting. They, well trained, would also have white sheets already draped on their arms.
    I would jump out of bed. Grab the sheets and rush out to the specially built Veranda (good Portuguese word). I would then spread sheets and invite the monks to please sit down. I would then go on my hands and knees and worship them. I was noted as a really good little Buddhist. Wow. With the sheet and the full worship … I was at, at least, +40 per monk. Rarely was there ever less than 3. So before I even brushed my teeth, I was at +120. Then breakfast. 2 eggs. That brought me down to +100.
    But, that, as any Catholic would appreciate, was quite a nice BUFFER to start the day with. No confessions. So all sins came straight off your balance.
    But, I was GOLDEN. Per my account … I was invariably in the black.
    Anyway ….
    Buddhism eschews the equivalent of a pope.
    Anyway ….
    Different topic. Different story.
    Thank YOU. All the best.

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