Nov 012010

by Anura Guruge

I am working on a post as to why the next pope may not be a ‘people person‘ — and why it doesn’t matter. I am also working on a post as to why the next pope is highly unlikely to be from the USA — and in this case the issue is that just one-third of the electorate (40 or less electors) can block any candidate. Though many have stated that the clergy sex abuse scandal will play a big role in the election of the next pope, I have started to realize that the cardinal electors,  totally indemnified against any and all consequences, may not see this as gravely as we do or from the same perspective — particularly given that so many may have been more involved than we even currently realize.
Papal elections, as I stated in the very first sentence of ‘The Next Pope,’ are unique in there process. Many who ponder as to who may be papabile sometimes appear to forget the unique dynamics at play. This is like no other election. This is like no other electorate. It is fait accompli. Rome has spoken, the election is closed.
The affected constituency, i.e., the Catholics, only have two ways to express their views on an election — with their feet or with their pocketbook. The cardinal electors, no doubt, have this factored in too. the worst of the attrition is now probably over. While numbers may have dropped in Europe, thanks to population growth numbers have increased in Latin America, Asia and Africa. Despite (more likely, probably because of) the sex scandal, the US donations to the Church increased in 2009. Plus, thanks to its teaching on procreation and contraception, the Catholic church can always rely on organic growth.

But, here are the unsaid, sometimes even subliminal, factors that determine the dynamics of a papal elections. It is like no other. So you have to think outside of the box.

Anura Guruge papal election dynamics at the next conclave for the next pope

  25 Responses to “Papal Election Dynamics – The Unsaid & Even Subliminal Factors”

  1. Are Cardinals resident in the Vatican exempt from the national laws of the Vatican City State?

  2. Of course Andrew — it is still a personal preference.
    The ‘mission of the Church’ is rather a vague notion. It isn’t as if the Holy See publishes a Contract with the Catholics.
    I know exactly what you are saying, but the facts are that each cardinal elector can vote exactly as he sees fit — with possible influence by the Holy Spirit (which is why I have maintained, here, in writing, that the Holy Spirit had to have been ‘OK’ with Benedict XVI’s handling of the crisis prior to being elected pope).
    Thanks & Cheers,

  3. I think it is time for the College of Cardinal electors to consider an African to become the next Pope. Names that come to mind are Peter Cardinal Appiah Turkson and Francis Cardinal Arinze. With dwindling number of Catholics in Europe, Africa is the hope and future of the Catholic Church because more people are entering our fold.

  4. Clement,
    Just this morning, I had a long e-mail ‘chat’ with a Catholic father from Sussex. He had put forward Turkson. I had the South African Wilfrid Napier Fox as my #4 pick. I can’t tell you how many e-mails I have received about Cardinal Arinze. He, independent, of his nationality, is now past his ‘shelf life.’ He went into the 2005 as the #1 per the bookies. From what we can surmise, he, however, hardly got any votes! So in his case the referendum already took place and he lost. In my ‘The Next Pope’ book I have a thesis about ‘first time papabili‘. Prior to Benedict XVI (#266) and John Paul II (#265), nine popes in succession, going back to 1846 were elected at the first conclave they attended! That isn’t a coincidence. Very good reason. At your first conclave you have the least amount of baggage.
    I no longer think that the next pope will be African or American. The non-American opinion goes way back. 1/3 of the electors can block a candidate and we can all come up with 40 electors from Latin America, Africa, Asia and FRANCE that will block an American.
    African now face the Obama syndrome. With Obama we got a MAJOR ‘African’ world leader. So the need to elect an African was mitigated. Plus, if you live in the US, like I do … you will see the visceral reaction there has been to Obama’s election! It is sad. Tomorrow we go to the polls and we will see a referendum on Obama. The predominantly white and elderly electorate, is not going to risk a black pope after they saw the backlash in this country. That is my take. I could be wrong.
    Thanks & Cheers

  5. My comment regarding the laws and courts of the VCS disappeared?

  6. Why do you think happened? Censorship from way upon high?

    Your comment re. the laws of the Vatican City State got me thinking. Three key things, at least two of which you should have known. Only the pope can judge a cardinal UNLESS he delegates that to an Apostolic Appeals Court — consisting of a bunch of cardinals. [Not exactly impartial as they would no each other.] The second thing is that it is mainly Canon Law. OK, I found a summary of the basic laws of the Vatican City State.
    They do not appear to be too onerous and do not appear to even touch upon any actions of man against man (or for that matter woman). Even Cardinal Law should be able to abide by these laws.
    Anyway, other than your desire to be pedantic, what were you trying to prove? From e-mails I have received everybody seems to understand what I meant.
    Interesting article:
    That is something else for you to catalog, phallic symbolism around the world, and if you do all the measurements in nano-inches, you could tie it with your interest in large numbers.
    Now the unanswered question.
    Your comment of Oct. 30 that said: ‘The three orders of cardinal bishops,priests,and deacons have always required those respective ordinations since time immemorial (if a cardinal priest who was not a bishop opted for a suburbicarian see he was then consecrated).’
    So, as I have responded you maintain that cardinal deacons always needed to have been deacons.
    I showed with examples that this was not always the case and asked for you to show us ONE papal edict that talked about cardinal deacons needing to be deacons — outside of Sixtus V’s 1586 requirement WHICH contradicts you, BIG TIME, because it say ‘they need to be ordained within the year’ — meaning that they may not have had any ordination prior, though in this case Sixtus was insisting on priestly ordination.
    So … what is taking so long?
    Also you made some comment about the credibility of the Church relying on its changelessness. OK. What was that about? Who was talking about any change. Always I was doing was stating the facts. I don’t want any change. I love it the way it is. That is what makes it so exciting. So … where were you coming from and where were you trying to go?
    But, it is kind of interesting. I hadn’t realized this. So per your thesis the Church resists change and has not changed over the last 1,900 years. OK. That is real comforting. I could think of some changes … but you are the self-proclaimed expert … though I have yet to find any writings by you other than COMMENTS on my work.
    Cheers. Well I have to go and do some work — in particular write.

  7. I do not say that it does not change,but that it undermines its legitimacy when it changes.

  8. I wanted to comment on a post that was posted around like October 24th. But, it kind of applies to this as its titled “Subliminal Factors” of Papal elections.

    Do you think being fluent in Italian is a subliminal requirement for the Papacy? It may just be coincidental or perhaps more than that, that the only two non-Italian Popes in recent memory both spoke several languages, including being fluent in Italian. Then obviously the long uninterrupted chain of Italian Popes from 1522-1978 all spoke Italian. But then, its pretty possible that the non-Italians before that time (52 of them) didn’t speak Italian. However, way back during that time they all would’ve been able to speak Latin as an everday language, as would a percentage of the people as well.

    So do you think this aspect is a significant requirement for becoming Pope? I mean, they do have to address crowds of Italians for the majority of their tenure. I don’t know if they could get by without knowing Italian. Then again, I’m sure most Cardinals pick up on a lot of Italian from also living in Rome prior to their election. But say that the Sri Lankan Cardinal isn’t that fluent by the time of the next conclave, are his chances limited just based off the language?

  9. David,
    You raise a very good and valid point. The need to be able to speak Italian has been talked about number of times on this blog (or maybe on Papam). It is mentioned, EXPLICITLY, on page 10 of my The Next Pope book. This is what I said: ‘The next pope, as the Bishop of Rome, will have to speak Italian. Many non-Italian cardinals do speak Italian. One way or another, most have spent some time in Italy, either for study or curial obligations. Benedict XVI and John Paul II, though not Italian, spoke Italian fluently.’ So we are in sync. I think the Sri Lankan has spent enough time in Rome to have some grasp of Italian.
    I think you, however, misread the point of the ‘subliminal’ post. IT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH REQUIREMENTS! It was factors that people either don’t know or forget as to how a pope is elected … because they think in terms of other electoral processes.
    OK? So we are cool. THANKS. Cheers.

  10. Of course the next Pope will have to speak fluent Italian. It has only a minor bit to do with addressing crowds in St. Peters, the Lateran, or anywhere else.

    The fact is that the Curia is a large bureaucracy, and the working language is Italian. If the Pope is to have any hope of actually governing the Church, he must surely speak the language.

    Could anyone be the Mayor of Istanbul without speaking Turkish? I think not.

  11. Just Africa and rural Latin America? [[ smile ]] Seriously?
    Lot here to respond to, but that caught my eye and got my attention.
    Thank you. Very thought provoking comment.
    I will keep on coming back to this. All the best.

  12. A “sacred language” is the better for being a “dead language”.And an institution with eternal aspirations should look at all passing “modernities” with indifference rather than partaking.

    Wasn’t there a speech of official importance given by Cardinal de Araujo Sales of Brazil?…I remember it was supposed to be a responsibility of the archpriest/protoprete yet was given by him rather than the occupant of that position,Cardinal Kim Sou-Hwan,who did play the archpriest’s role at Benedict XVI’s installation (both became cardinals in 1969 and were over 80 before 2005).

  13. That would hardly qualify as a service at all,nor would there be any pattern on which they were drawn together.

  14. Louis,
    I trust this had to do with your defense of Latin, and I would have to agree.
    Yes, I checked. Dear Salvador does point out that the Vatican was in error (horrors of horrors, must have been the one and only time) when they had Cardinal Eugenio de Araujo Sales, archbishop emeritus of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro, as proto-priest of the College of Cardinals tasked with the Day 5, Mass as part of the novendiali. Yes, South Korean, Stephen Sou-hwan had precedence.
    Yes, I agree … though it was very naughty and unquestionable of the Vatican not to admit that they were DELEGATING this task to the Brazilian.

    Yes, I checked Sou-hwan’s bio. He didn’t spend any time in Rome. His Latin probably wasn’t that good. I am sure all the funeral Masses are done in Latin (or is it possible Italian?) So they didn’t want him mumbling his Latin in front of all the other cardinals at the Sistine(?).

    Thanks. Good point.

  15. On April 1, 2005, the day before he died, the Vatican reported … ‘he asked that the 14 stations (of the Cross) be read to him.’

    In 2007 I conduced a small, unscientific poll, in person and in e-mail … including asking two psychiatrists, husband-and-wife, both Polish, who had lived in Poland for at least 20 years each, before settling in the US … as to WHAT LANGUAGE the Stations of the Cross would have been read to the pope in.

    My druthers were, in most probable to least: Polish, Italian, Latin, French.

    Nearly all Americans, including the two Polish doctors, without hesitation and with nary a pause said (without any HINT of irony): ‘Why, of course, ENGLISH’!

    Reminded me of dear ol’ Jesse Helms’ statement to Congress (and LOOK it up on Google): ‘If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it should be good enough for the rest of us’ — debate about whether English was the official language of the US.


  16. The Italian handyman who helped build our house (and stole my father’s chainsaw while he was at it) thought Jesus was Italian.

  17. Louis,
    He was right?
    Louis, all famous pictures of him show him as white with blond hair and blue eyes … I have even seen some where they depict him ‘uncut’. I am sure there are MANY around the world who genuinely believe that he was born a European, English speaking Christian in Rome.

    Kind of curious about the chainsaw. Was he planning to make a cross for himself?

    Two, related BUT SECULAR instances of people not having a clue about history, cultures and THE WORLD.

    My first 4th of July in this country (2nd time around, as an adult. I was also here, in Buffalo, in 1967-19768). 1985. Maryland. Cookout. Neighbors. Very middle class, ‘affluent’ new division … brand new 3,000 sq. ft. houses, each on 5 acres.

    This lady, in her 30s, sidles up to me … and asks … ‘So Anu, how do they celebrate the 4th of July in Britain’.

    This Louis was one of my PROUDEST moments. Winston would have been proud of me. I had the presence of mind to immediately say, quite seriously: ‘Very quietly, very quietly’.

    2002. Central New Hampshire. I used to belong to Rotary. When I had joined I had to give a talk on Ceylon and myself. [ASIDE. I happened to mention that I got my B.Sc. from the University of Wales. In the Newsletter it was written up that I got my B.Sc. from the University of WHALES. I was actually quite thin those days … the person who wrote the piece is the EDITOR of our local paper. He admitted in private that he had never heard of Wales!]

    A retired surgeon, past Chairman of the NE ‘board’ of Surgeons (or similar) seated next to me at our weekly, Thursday lunch: ‘So Anu, do YOU know who the most famous American WRITER living in Ceylon, Sri Lanka?’

    I am thinking (and had already dismissed my father’s friend ‘Arthur’) and he goes: ‘Anu, you don’t KNOW! It is Arthur C. Clarke’

    Me: ‘Ahh, I think (though I knew but I am ever the tactful diplomat) Arthur C. Clarke is British.’

    Surgeon: ‘Hhhmmm. He writes DAMN WELL for not being American’!


    Can you blame them for thinking that the next pope can be from America?


    P.S., I have collected various stories like this …. 1979. Phoenix Airport, Az. I was trying to ship some technical documents back to the UK as excess baggage. Anticipating this need, I had come along with an airline MCO (Miscellaneous charge order).
    Young AA lady … looks at it and says ‘It is not made out in DOLLARS.’ I point out that yes, it is not, it is in UK Pounds (and in those GREAT old days a UK pound = $2.40(+)) She looks at me and says: ‘UK pounds … is that something like a dollar.’

    24 hours later, I get stopped for speeding … way out in the desert … south of Flagstaff … coming back from the Canyon. Yes, I, even today known as a speed daemon, was doing about 85. Since I wasn’t living here, I only had a paper, UK driving license. 4 page, green document. There is section for ‘endorsements.’ In there it said: ‘9/1974 — SP30’ that is it. This young policeman grins at me and said, so you have already been busted for speeding! 24 hours in AZ.

  18. English didn’t exist until well after the time of Jesus,though it’s been recognizable since well before the invention of the chainsaw.The handyman had as a given name the surname of one of the current cardinals-designate.

  19. Let me guess Patabendige Don … that is Italian right. [[ grin ]]
    Bartolucci … in which case I don’t blame him for absconding with the chainsaw?
    Romeo … how romantic?
    Soon, we need to AGAIN move on to weightier issues.
    Thanks & Cheers

  20. Three strikes,you’re out on that one.

    What,the old “a fat pope follows a thin one” adage?

  21. The TWO of you are cracking me up today. Thank YOU. Much needed and appreciated.
    Wonder whether we have scared off the others. Very quiet the last few days.
    Yes, I haven’t posted anything either. But, the rest of tonight working on the book for my daughter.
    Keep it up. Laughter is the best drug in the world.
    Thanks. Cheers.

  22. I am amazed.
    It can’t be Naguib.
    OK, I had thought of Sardi — and for the record Sardis is one of my favorite BARS in NYC. Yes, I have seen the Phantom — 5 times. 12 more too beat Dianna. So, many more trips to Sardis.

    Your fat pope, thin pope is CLOSE enough. But hasn’t been true as of Vatican II. Did they decide on that too?
    Thanks. Cheers.

  23. I have a 10 year old and a very, very BOSSY 4 year old … not counting the wife. Plus a 21 year old daughter. But, in all honesty, push comes to shove, people try not to boss me around. [[ smile ]]
    Thanks. Cheers.

  24. I am reminded of the “that infant is the ruler of all the Hellenes” story.

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