by Father Anthony, STL
The two latest Father Anthony related posts. Do a search for all the others (or follow some of the links):
1/ Nov. 18, 2011 — Pictures of Pope Benedict XVI, Last Week, From Father Anthony, STL.
2/ Oct. 26, 2011 — Father Anthony Visiting Rome Again; and A Few Thoughts On The Pope’s Health.
It is very obvious that the Pope has slowed up somewhat. I had not seen him except on TV since he was with us in London at Westminster Cathedral in September last year. He seems to have aged during these last months and seems rather more frail than he was. They say that he is suffering from a form of arthrosis which involves the degeneration of the joints. I would imagine that it must be quite painful. On the other hand he is clearly on good form mentally. The talks that he writes himself are thoughtful and show that his mind is as sharp as ever. I heard no talk about the succession. There was no sense of things coming to an end.
At the same time people are realistic about the prospects for a man of 84 who has never been in robust health. Plans are still being made for journeys outside Italy including Mexico and Cuba.
While I was in Rome the focus of the media was on the downfall of Berlusconi. It will be interesting to see how this impacts on the Church and the Vatican. It would be fair to say that under Cardinal Bertone the Curia has become more heavily Italian, and that Italian politics have an effect on what happens at the Vatican. There is certainly no one Italian view among the senior Italian Cardinals on the role of the Church in Italy and the proper role of the Vatican. I do not think that in the event of a conclave it would be easy to unite the Italian Cardinals around one Italian candidate. Again many outside Italy think that this pontificate has been too “Eurocentric”, and this could lead to a different direction in the next pontificate. However I am better as an observer than a prophet, so we shall have to wait and see.