Dec 072010

by Anura Guruge

The next pope is also likely to be over 75, possibly even a non-elector, December 6, 2010 post.

Anura Guruge papabili 75+Yesterday’s post [above], as was to be expected, did not please many. They are far from inspired by the thought of another elderly pope.

But, the more I think about it the more I become convinced that the electors are not going to have much of a choice — unless of course the rules change. This pope could usher in a whole new era by retiring at 85 — a full 10 years later than the retirement age specified for other bishops. That could be a welcome precedent. But, 85 isn’t that young. It would still mean that a pope elected at 70 will rule for 15 years. And, I sincerely doubt that this pope will retire at 85. So …
I face another dilemma. I think the current pope will be around for at least another 4 years (2014). I am even anticipating that he will live to be 93 … thus becoming the oldest pope since 1400. This long term horizon makes picking papabili not only difficult but meaningless. But, people want a list so that they can speculate. So today, I started, mainly out of curiosity, to look at potential papabili who will be 75 to 77 in 2011. I have to confess that there are some very alluring prospects. I nearly whistled out loud, particularly given the number of Italians. One could even say that some of the strongest candidates are in this bracket. So lets just have a look, with the names in no particular order — with the ages shown within parenthesis being their age at their 2011 birthday (though I am still sticking to my guns that the next pope will be ‘white,’ but not from Poland, Germany, USA or Cuba).

A plausible older (transitional) next pope?

Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B. (77), Italian, Cardinal Bishop,
Secretary of State and Camerlengo.
Fortunato Baldelli
(76), Italian, Major Penitentiary.
Francesco Monterisi
(77), Italian, Archpriest,
Papal Basilica of S. Paolo fouri le Mura.
Paolo Sardi
(77), Italian, Patron, Order of Malta.
Giovanni Battista Re
(77), Italian, Cardinal Bishop, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops.
Dionigi Tettamanzi
(77), Italian, Archbishop of Milan.
Ennio Antonelli
(75), Italian, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family [was #2 on my 2008 papabili list].
Cláudio Hummes
, O.F.M. (77), Brazil, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation of the Clergy.
José da Cruz Policarpo
(75), Portugal, Patriarch of Lisbon [was #10 on my 2008 papabili list].
Antonio María Rouco Varela
(75), Spain, Archbishop of Madrid.
Nicolás de Jesús López Rodriguez
(75), Dominican Republic, Archbishop of Santo Domingo.

  19 Responses to “Some Very Alluring 75+ Potential Papabili”

  1. I think I start changing mind as well, inspired by your thoughts. Why not a 75-year old pope? This is three years less than the age of Benedict XVI at the time of his election. What I consider very important in this case is whether the person is holding an office or is retired. I don’t expect a retired person to be elected (such as Carlo Maria Martini in 2005; on the other hand Ratzinger and Sodano were both in their offices). Thus, I think Hummes and Re are not a plausible candidates, while Bertone and Tettamanzi are, at least according to this criterion (I think there are other criteria that would prevent their election). I am not sure whether the three Archpriests are suitable candidates (the fourth Archpriest, that of the Lateran Basilica, is also the Vicar of Rome). Meanwhile, Ouellet will be 75 only in 2019. He may hold his office even longer. He remains papabile for next 10 years.

  2. Marko, as ever on the mark and perspective. Thank you.
    Yes, I did think about the ’emeritus’. You have a valid point … but if he is an exceptional person SHOULD the fact that he retired be held against him?
    You could argue that it would be REFRESHING to elect a pope who has had a couple of years rest … a breather. Re-charge the batteries (esp. at that age).
    But … all food for thought.

  3. Dear Father,
    As ever, very clear thinking and comments by YOU. We are blessed to have your expertise.
    Lets put those numbers into percentages, so in 1979 11% were over 80. Today, 40% [if you want to precise 39.8%] are over 80.
    I have said this before, and I will say this again … in MY opinion (and I could, as ever, be dead wrong) … Paul VI (#263) DID NOT expect his ‘age limits’ to stay in force for this long.
    I really think that things are in a ‘mess’ and that ‘they’ are digging themselves into a deeper hole.
    “Citizen of Dis” who is a smart cookie is 20 year term limits.
    I think we need term limits as well as a mandatory retirement age for the pope.

    All other bishops have to tender their resignation at 75.
    Yes, the pope is special. Amen.
    But, so MANY forget (and I sometimes think … and I could be wrong) that the pope forgets this too … with all the pomp, ermine, jewels and gold that surrounds him … that the SOLE BASIS for all of HIS POWER and AUTHORITY is that he is the Bishop of Rome.
    So all other bishops must tender their resignations at 75.
    The bishop of Rome, of course, is SPECIAL.
    As George Orwell, so cleverly said, all pigs are equal but some pigs are more equal than others. (My father, a lifelong politician, though he NEVER ran for office, FIRMLY believed in this. I, fortunately, was always an egalitarian pig, so I knew my place).
    Hypocrisy is always a dangerous game.
    Yes, lots of food for thought.
    Thank you, father. All the best.

  4. Marko,
    I reality, I think the most likely age range will be between 75-77.
    Thank you.

  5. Adam, THANK you for posting this. As I said in my e-mail to you, YOU raise some very good points and they deserved to be shared with a larger audience. I hope you too become one of our regular contributors. That would be GREAT.
    Adam, Cardinal Bergoglio is DEFINITELY papabile, especially if you start looking at ‘older’ papabili.
    Adam, I will NOT, however, any longer buy Turkson. The NEXT pope will be white! Yes, we will have a non-white pope, but probably not in the next 50 years and I am sure the USA would have had a female president, before we see a black pope.
    Adam, I have been non-white since birth. Now 57, I have lived, fairly well integrated, within predominantly white societies, totally cut-off from other Sri Lankans, for the last 43 years. When I moved to New Hampshire (NH), USA, in 1986, I was one of the first non-whites in the State. As recently as 1999, in NH, I would be the first non-white that many kids here had ever seen.
    ALL THAT SAID, until July of this year (i.e., 18 months into Obama’s presidency) I could put my hand on my heart and say that I had never experienced OVERT racial discrimination (albeit not counting parents who were NOT thrilled about me ‘dating’ their white daughters).
    Adam, as I have said here openly, I campaigned (and given my perverse sense of humor, I like to say ‘like a black’) vigorously for Obama even going door-to-door to over 350 houses, some of them in the roughest neighborhoods around here. NH continues to be a predominantly white state, ~98%, I think.
    Adam, 4 months after Obama was in the White House, I physically restrained a white youth who was going to stab a black youth with a ‘flick knife’ in the D.C. underground! My wife was very upset that ME, an old guy, jumped into the fray to stop this fight.
    Adam, I had fervently hoped that Obama’s election would usher in a new era of tolerance and understanding.
    Adam, I was WRONG. Things are worse than ever before.
    Adam, I will also confess that I am NOT happy with Obama and yes, you should hear the words I use to describe him now. But, I am not upset with him because of the color of his skin. But, alas, many are!
    Adam, most cardinals, despite the opulent, distant, self-indulgent, aloof, incredibly privileged lifestyles they enjoy, are still very savvy, politic operators. You don’t typically become a cardinal because of your naivete. That usually makes you a mid-tier curial official.
    Adam, the US cardinals, at a minimum, know what has taken place in the USA post Obama. Many would also be ardent Republicans, supposedly because of the Republican values, but in reality because cardinals in general only circulate among the most wealthy.
    Adam, cardinals do talk with each other. So what is taking place in the US is no secret to other cardinals, especially those from the West. Plus, they watch satellite TV and surf the Web on their Blackberries … hidden in the voluminous sleeves of their vestments.
    Adam, so … there will be no 80 votes for a black pope! SORRY.
    Adam, also (as I said in my e-mail), remember what happened to Arinze in 2005. The bookmakers, Paddy Power in particular, had him as #1. The London newspapers, pre-conclave, already had him as pope (and YES, maybe thus invoked the curse, ‘who that enter a conclave as pope comes out as a cardinal‘). Per the anecdotal and unreliable accounts we do have of what did happen in 2005 (and yes, I did write about it in ‘The Next Pope‘), Cardinal Arinze hardly got any votes.
    Adam, so PLEASE humor me. I am far from a racist. But, the NEXT POPE will not be from Africa … unless there still is a WHITE cardinal in Africa.
    Adam, I am sorry. I do not intend to offend. I am very realistic. Yes, in 2008, I had South African Fox Napier as my #5 papabile. But, I also though the next pope will be young. I also thought that Obama would usher in a bright new world for all of us. I was wrong. That is OK. But, I learn from my mistakes.
    Thank YOU, Adam. I hope I did not, in any way, upset you. If I did, I am sincerely, sorry. Not my intent.
    Cheers, Anura

  6. I am posting this at the behest of Father Anthony (whose posts and pictures appear on this blog) who, due to time pressures, send me these lines in an e-mail:

    “I will also send a piece on the older papabili. I think your points are interesting, but I hope you are wrong.
    I cannot think it would be good for the Church to have an ever older leadership.
    It is hard to explain why at 80 years of age you are too old to vote for a new Pope but still able to be the Pope!
    Either we allow all the very old gentlemen to vote (surely not a good idea?) or the Popes decide to retire at 80.
    Can a group of men in their seventies and eighties really be attuned to the needs of a younger generation?
    It would remind me of the Kremlin towards the end of the Communist era just before Gorbachev took over.
    Let’s hope not.”

    Father Anthony, STL,
    Sussex, U.K.

  7. Anura, about Obama: did not Clinton “enjoy” similar hyperbolic attacks from the right wing? Talk radio types accused him of murdering Vince Foster and the Republican majority House impeached him over a blowjob.

    That said, you are probably right about the African pope at this junction. Global South needs to start receiving more cardinals to correspond to the numbers of Catholics living there – hence my previous suggestion of expanding the “electoral college” to 150 and to have the 30 expansion cardinals be appointed from the underrepresented GS countries (I also suggested Synod of Bishops chose them as to not give the Pope too much power).
    Then their electoral position in the Conclave will be stronger.

    There is a problem with your 75+ papabili list. If B16 lives another 5 years, all of them will be over 80 and very unlikely to be elected.

    Also I am very skeptical that the Electors will want another old Pope after B16. John XXIII was the only Pope older than 70 elected in the 20th century after all and the old age of B16’s election is probably due to the fact that the cardinals wanted a transitional pope after the very long reign of JP2. Why have two transitional popes right after each other?
    A pope younger than 70 would also be better able to connect to the younger generations and would also have the advantage of being of a generation that was not in leadership during the worst of the priestly sex scandals. That advantage can’t be overlooked.

  8. Yes, there are days that I too think … no Italian. But … then there are others … particularly if I think … 75 or over … ITALIAN, ITALIAN, ITALIAN.

    I would like to see a Latin American. Possibly even Ouellet.

    Thank YOU. Please continue to contribute. All the best.

  9. Anura,
    loved the bit about doves and pheromones.
    I wonder why the RCC does not use an element of chance (aka Holy Spirit) to determine the Pope, similar to the way they do it in the Serbian Orthodox Church where the Patriarch is chosen by lot among the top three finishers in the election by the synod. This is also reminiscent of the election of Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot.

  10. Adam, I understand that point – the College seemed to be on a roll – first non-Italian Pope in 400 years, first Polish Pope, then first German Pope in a millennium, first two consecutive non-Italians since the Avignon papacy 700 years ago. So the electors seems to be eager to transgress boundaries so why not a 3rd world and even possibly black pope next? Counterpoint is that with Obama, Nelson Mandela and Kofi Anan we have already had world leaders so electing a black Pope is maybe not as urgent now. I do not necessarily disagree but I do not think this is the main obstacle to a 3rd world pope in general. That would be, instead , the reality that there haven’t been enough 3rd world cardinals made recently to make that a likely outcome. B16 has been a disappointment here, and in the last consistory he even made disproportionate 8 Italian prelates cardinals.
    Anura brought Obama up for a different reason. He thinks that virulent hostility toward Obama will make electors think twice before backing a black or darker skinned cardinal for papacy. That is well possible.

    Anura, let me respond to your recent comments. I do live in the US, Atlanta area to be exact. But I did not live here for most of Clinton’s presidency, and I was too young to care much about politics anyway. But I was here and remember the Monicagate well and
    I do acknowledge that some of the hostility is racist, but I think the Left tends to exaggerate it. Quite apart from his mixed race, Obama has several things that are not common for presidents and that just don’t endear him to the Right: he spent much of his youth living abroad, one of his parents was a foreigner (which is not going to endear you to the type of American who prides himself in not having been abroad except maybe to Tijuana no matter how white that parent might be) and he presides over one of the worst economies in a 100 years. By contrast, Clinton had a booming economy and Bush had the “benefit” of 9/11 which helped unite the country and improve his ratings, at least for a few years. So while I am sure race plays some role with some of Obama’s detractors, it is not as big an impact as commonly claimed.

    About this:

    Some old, very distinguished Black Congressman, who were involved in the Civil Rights movement, were spat upon, in front of the Capital this year! Things are different.

    I did not hear that. Do you have a link?

    Yes, there is a problem with ALL my lists. Papabili status change each year. That is why I plan to do one this year and I ALWAYS date my lists. This one will be called papabili 2011.

    Yes, but at least the younger papabili have a bit longer shelf life. A 65 year old hopeful might be fresh for 10+ years, a 75 year old maybe 2 or 3. So the dynamic of the list certainly changes if you focus on 75+ year old papabili.

    B16 is TODAY right at the LIMIT of what is considered the reign for a ‘transitional’ pope — 5 years. If he lives another 5 to 6 years … he is NOT a transitional pope!

    Hmm, I see what you mean. But would a Pope who reigned 10 years and who started out as a transitional pope need another transitional pope. I just don’t see them going that route again. And B16 might as well reign for 5+ years more. He has good genes. You already mentioned his older – and still living – brother. His father lived to be 82, no mean feat in the 50s – who knows how old he would have gotten with modern medicine.

    The thinking that John XXIII was the only over 70 pope elected … is VALID … but does NOT take into account the HUGE INCREASE in life expectancy after the 1960s … due to rapid, breakthrough improvements in medicine, diagnostics and care.

    Yes, as I said before, we are much better in prolonging the life of the body than we are in prolonging the vitality of the mind. B16 is still very sharp at 83, but I have no doubts he is not nearly as sharp as he was at 78 or 73. And that his mind will deteriorate further if he lives to be 88 or older. That’s just the nature of things. Also, old people get very set in their ways and tend to be resistant to change – a big flaw when our world changes so rapidly. Vatican’s office dealing with the Internet not having Internet access is in part a result of Vatican being run by very old men. As I said before, it was a long time since B16 was a young man and he was an older man already at a time that many young people today don’t even remember.

    . THAT TO ME … is the issue. People are living longer. Just look around.

    I do not deny life expectancy has increased – but that is a reason to implement papal retirement as a rule, not exception, not to elect very old men as popes.

    Well, this turned out to be way longer than I intended.

  11. Friends,
    We are at 997 PUBLISHED comments for this blog …
    So, one of you will make the 1,000th published comment …
    Go for it.
    When I started blogging about popes, in July 2008, it was months before I got my first comment.
    This blog, for those that don’t know, was started on April 16, 2010 at my wife’s behest.
    I had closed down the blog I had on Typepad and was not going to do any more work on popes. My wife talked me out of it and said I owed it to those that had ‘supported’ me in the past. So …
    8 months.
    Thank YOU. It has been fun. I am glad I listened to the wife. You folks are the BEST.

  12. I fixed your two typos as requested.

    Here is a link to the very sad spitting incident.

    Yes, I am a news junkie.

    Thanks. Cheers.

  13. I am still trying to digest all that is in this long response.
    In general, I really don’t have any major issues. Nuances. Different emphasis.
    In 1878, after nearly 32 years of the ‘eternal pope,’ the cardinals opted for the 68-year old Camerlengo who was thought to be in ‘poor’ health. The belief was that it would not be another lengthy papacy. So it was meant to be a stop-gap, transitional papacy. It lasted over 25 years. That is said to have put a damper on the notion of electing transitional popes.
    This pope, following John XXIII’s famous quip, did indicate that ‘Benedicts’ were not known to reign for long. The average for the ‘Benedicts’ is just over 5. ‘Johns’ average just under 6 while that for all popes is 7.2 years. So the current pope is at the top end of the range for ‘Benedicts,’ but below that for all popes.
    Thanks & Cheers

  14. As a Catholic friend of mine once told me, one should not speculate on the next Pope but pray to God that this current one will do his best.

    Pope Benedict is an excellent Administrator so far. The 3 recent popes have all been created cardinals by Pope Paul VI. With about 40% of the Cardinal Electors today now appointed by Benedict, there is still a good chance the next one will be someone made Cardinal by JPII (60%). But within the next 5 years till 2015, that number may dwindle to 50 – 40%.

    Look at the possible voting patterns of the conclave to see how the Cardinal Electors think. Bergoglio was the challenger to Ratzinger (well, if we can believe the leaked diaries). I wonder what the Cardinals were thinking when they had to choose between Ratzinger and Bergoglio. Both are conservative, but Ratzinger was a Curialist and Bergoglio, not so, but more humble and relatively unknown. Both men were no match for media-savvy JPII. All I can say is that, after BXVI the next one may not be an Academic, like what BXVI is. He is a learned theologian, and has written 3 encyclicals. The outrage over his comments at Regensberg which angered the Muslims may be something the Cardinals have in mind when they choose the next one – they may pick someone who is possibly more media-savvy and less academic. Also, BXVI caused outrage in Latin America when his comments on Indigenous tribes ‘secretly hoping’ for Christ is something to think about. The next guy will have to be someone who is very careful with words.

    Another issue of interest is the Global Financial Crisis and economic problems besieging the West (USA and EU). With Greece and Ireland in the dumps, and America’s economy sluggish, the world is now becoming more centred on Emerging Markets. China is growing in influence; Latin America is doing well economically and Africa is still struggling with politics and democracy (Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, etc). The GFC has made the world lose confidence of the economic superiority of the West. BXVI spoke in his encyclical against materialism and secularism, and called for more equitable wealth distribution and dealing with greed in the aftermath of the Crisis. While the Church is supposed to be separate to political affairs, the GFC is an event too big to ignore even in the religious circles. So chances are, the Cardinal Electors come the next conclave may choose someone who knows a bit about tackling the evils of consumerism, or greed, or unfair distribution of wealth. It may be someone who knows the poverty situation in the Third World.

    It is for these 2 main reasons – care with words (possibly media-savvy) and knowledge, first-hand, of poverty, that I favour Cardinal Maradiaga to be a successor of Benedict. He also headed Caritas International at one stage, and is the Vatican’s spokesperson with the IMF and World Bank. Coming from obscure Honduras, he may be an excellent choice, and he is young (68 as of December 2010).

    Also, a Maradiaga papacy will address an age-old wound – the Church’s sins against Indigenous Americans. Maradiaga has indigenous blood. It is like how Obama’s Election is like the closing of the gap on the grievances of African-Americans. A Maradiaga papacy is also interesting because he is created Cardinal by JPII; so if the Cardinal Electors want to continue or recreate his legacy, they could as well choose him. Though Maradiaga is moderate.

  15. Let me understand, after starting off by saying we should not speculate about the next pope … you then go on to make a prediction. I like that.
    Yes, I know of all the dangers of speculating about the next pope and have already stated that though I am 26 years junior to the pope, I will most likely die before we see an end to this papacy.
    So … be careful. This is indeed tricky territory.
    By the way I had Maradiaga as my #7 in 2008. Is he still flying around … piloting his own plane?
    Thanks. Cheers. Merry Christmas.

  16. I have been reading this blog for some time and I finally decided to take the plunge.The concept that the cardinals might opt for another older pope is intriguing. I agree that the cardinals in these very turbulent times would not want to have a pope that last for too long but on the other hand it is also true that a transitory pope is usually not followed by another. Still the fact that the life expectancy is going up might convince the college not to risk electing anyone who is not at least in his early mid seventees. I also agree that he must still be in his post. In the church retired prelates generally stay retired. I also agree that the college will go with a white man, not only for the next election but for the forseable future, and I will go further, I beleive that the next pope will be a white european.What convinced me to write was some other post or article, which I cannot find that touted Bergolio as a clear papbile. I do not beleive this is the case and for a valid reason which no one seems to mention. He is a Jesuit and there will always be one third plus one cardinals who will object to a jesuit pope.

  17. I am glad you decided to take the plunge. You raise some very good points.
    As for the possible of choice of an older pope you clearly lay out all the right reasons. I am NOT sure whether Benedict XVI can now be considered a transitory pope. Wouldn’t you say 5-6 years is usually what is considered the window for a transitory pope. Soon this pope will have been pope for 7 years. Despite his current frailness, that the media is freely writing about now, I think this pope will be around for at least another 5 years! By then nobody is going to think of him as having been elected as an interim pope.
    I am GLAD we see eye-to-eye about a white pope. You will see a comment from Fr. John, today, ‘agreeing’ to that too. We differ in that I believe that the Canadian Ouellet stands a very good chance — though not European.
    Fr. John’s list of yesterday includes Bergolio — as does my list, in my book, though I have him at #10. Your point about him being a Jesuit is well taken, and I have considered that. I had NOT realized that there is a possibility that so many electors would oppose a S.J. I thought in the past it the S.Js. that refused the papacy. But, you point is taken.
    Thank you. Please check Fr. John’s post of yesterday and his comments today.
    All the best. Hope you had a GREAT Christmas. Happy New Year. Thanks.

  18. Thanks for the greetings. I had a quiet, thereforew in my book great, christmas with my 2005 the clueless media where mentioning various reasons why Ratzinger was one of the top candidates, like his closeness to the previous pope, his familiarity with most cardinals and most ludicrously, at least in my view, the mere fact that he was the Dean and therefore the most visible cardinal in the pre conclave days. I beleived at the time that whilst his connection to the pope and all the cardinals were factors, he was the favourite because he had the most important requisite for that specific papal election, namely that he was old enough to guarantee the occurance closest to the heart of most cardinals at that juncture, namely a shortish pontificate.Concurrently to this I had the sneaking suspicion that once elected Ratzinger might not live up, so to speak, to his part of the bargain and stay around for far longer that it was legitimately expected of him.I agree that Benedict need not be considered a transitory pope anymore and therefore it follows that the longer he lives the more likely the cardinals at the next conclave might decide that they need another old new pope and hope for the best ( not his their own obviously). I also completely agree that notwithstanding all the speculation, this pope will be around for many more years. Once your brain is convinced that you should continue to live your body will go along at least for some time.I had seen the new list and I agree that it is a great improvement on last year. There wont be an african pope in the near future and there will always be a third of the college to stop the election of an american, although this always is the human always as defined in The Leopard, one or two centuries, not least because in that period america might have evolved from a superpower to merely one of a number of major powers.I have one other doubt about Fr John’s list. When one considers european( that excludes Britain) class consciousness which nearly always evolves in class hatred and given the present economic climate which will probably last for many years, I doubt that european especially southern european cardinals would elect a Count as pope. The left wing media would have a marvellous time fomenting constant anti clericalism on behalf of the masses if that where to happen. My comments on the Austrian are based on my frequent contact with italian media.Finally Bergolio, modern jesuits have a habit of rubbing the dioceses the wrong way with their inflexibility and constant medling on mostly social issues. I am sure that there are many Cardinals who in their role of bishops ( therefore excluding the cardinals of the Roman Curia) who had enough clashes with jesuits not to want a jesuit pope, not least a jesuit pope would result in increased power and prestige to the order. I do not beleive that cardinals of the other ordersd face this problem with the partial exception of the domenicans and this might be another strike agaist the Austrian ( I refer to him in this way because the spelling of his name escapes me.) One last thing what would be the dynamics if an over 80 is elected, how would he be called inside the conclave to inform hom amd check whether he accepts? This is one of the considerations why one over 80 is unlikely although not impossible. Then again the present pope might solve the problem by abolishing the stupid over 80 rule.

  19. I was rereading my previous post and I regret the phrase a great improvment on last years list. That sounds condescending and it was not my intention. What I meant is that I am convinced that an american and an african are out of the running and the new list without them therefore is in my belieff much closer to what might really happen. Obviously that is the list of papbili for a 2012 conclave but I am convinced that we are only going to have a conclave in 2016 or 2017 at the earliest.

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