I have to say I particularly enjoyed whoever wrote the copy for this photo of the "Cardinals praying" before their meeting today. If these are the Cardinals at prayer, then I'm never again going to fret about how I can get distracted during Mass at times....
Church Completes Mourning Period for Pope
Apr 16, 8:57 AM (ET)
By NICOLE WINFIELD
VATICAN CITY (AP) - The Roman Catholic Church was completing its official nine-day mourning period for Pope John Paul II on Saturday while its cardinals made final preparations to select his successor.
The 115 cardinals charged with electing a new pope - and some other cardinals too old to vote - held their final meeting Saturday before they sequester themselves amid Michelangelo's stunning frescoes in the Sistine Chapel on Monday.
On Saturday afternoon, Chilean Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez was to say Mass at St. Peter's Basilica, ending a nine-day official mourning period that began with John Paul's funeral.
The late pope, who died April 2, was buried a week later in the grottoes below the basilica.
The Vatican gave no immediate word on the subject of the cardinals' meeting Saturday, but they have been discussing problems in the church, including financial losses, and seeing to the administration of the Vatican.
On Monday, they will begin balloting to choose a new pontiff in a tradition steeped in secrecy.
Housekeepers, car drivers and others who will have access to the cardinals during the conclave took an oath on Friday, promising never to reveal the details of the politicking and infighting behind the process unless the pontiff himself authorizes it.
With one hand on the book of the Gospels, each of the officials and aides also swore to refrain from using any audio or video equipment during the closed-door vote, at the risk of the severest of punishments the church can mete out: excommunication.
"I will observe absolute and perpetual secrecy with all who are not part of the College of Cardinal electors concerning all matters directly or indirectly related to the ballots cast and their scrutiny for the election of the Supreme Pontiff," they intoned.
Secrecy has long been a hallmark of conclaves, but the threat of leaks and spying seemed greater than ever in an age of high-tech listening devices, some 6,000 accredited journalists prowling Vatican City and seemingly intractable global interest in the decisions of 115 red-hatted "princes of the church."
For the first time ever, cardinals will be allowed to move about Vatican City freely once the voting starts, though they are forbidden to talk to anyone who hasn't been sworn to secrecy.
Already, though, leaks from the secret pre-conclave meetings were abundant in the Italian media, with newspapers reporting on the daily jockeying of factions pushing their candidates. Early in the week Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany was seen as a front-runner with nearly half of the votes. By Friday, Cardinal Angelo Sodano and Chilean Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa were gaining some momentum, according to the newspaper accounts.
The Rev. Andrew Greeley, a prominent Catholic author, said such leaks were common in the run-up to the conclave - though they are expected to stop once the master of liturgical ceremonies cries "Extra omnes," Latin for "all out," and only the cardinals are left in the Sistine Chapel to vote.
"It is like the previous conclaves, about this time before they go into the conclave, the Italians begin to leak things to the Italian media and you get all kinds of wild predictions," he said.
John Paul outlined the secrecy procedures in his 1996 document "Universi Dominici Gregis," or "Shepherd of the Lord's Whole Flock." In it, he allowed for a few people to have contact with the cardinals: prelates involved in ceremonial functions, maids and food servers at the Vatican hotel where the cardinals will stay, drivers who will ferry them to the Sistine Chapel and back each day, elevator operators who will bring them to the chapel itself, doctors and nurses on call for sick cardinals and priests who will hear confessions.
John Paul also singled out the need for two "trustworthy technicians" who will sweep the Sistine Chapel for bugs and other listening devices.
The Vatican didn't say how many people took the oath, but official photographs of the event showed a few dozen people, including nuns, prelates and lay people, waiting to take their turn.
No names mentioned as cardinals end preparatory meetings
Apr. 16 (CWNews.com) - The cardinals in Rome have concluded their pre-conclave meetings, without ever mentioning the names of possible successors to Pope John Paul II, according to a Vatican press announcement.
The last of 12 meetings of the "general congregation" took place on Saturday, April 16. Although the cardinals' discussions during these meetings are strictly confidential, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls told reporters that he had been authorized to make two general observations.
First, Navarro-Valls said, "The climate of these congregations has been one of great familiarity." The cardinals exchanged views freely on the challenges facing the Church, and found a "great consensus on the general themes" of their talks. The cardinals also shared a feeling of "great responsibility" as they prepared to choose the 265th Pope, he said.
Second, the Vatican spokesman said, although the cardinals spoke about the needs of the Church and of the papacy, "in no congregation were names ever brought up." The cardinals will not discuss specific candidates for the papacy until they enter the conclave.
During their Saturday meeting, the cardinals discussed some specific provisions of the apostolic constitution Universi Dominici Gregis, which governs the conduct of the conclave, Navarro-Valls continued. They also discussed the arrangements for their lodging in the St. Martha residence.
The general congregation of April 16 also included one light moment, which Navarro-Valls reported to the press. On behalf of the College of Cardinals, the camerlengo, Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, wished a happy 78th birthday to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger -- who will enter the conclave as the focus of the most intense speculation among journalists hoping to predict the papal election.
Detailed schedule for conclave announced
Vatican, Apr. 16 (CWNews.com) - Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the director of the Vatican press office, briefed reporters on April 16 about plans for the opening of the conclave on Monday, April 18.
By Sunday evening, all of the cardinal-electors will have moved into the St. Martha residence at the Vatican. Many cardinals arriving from abroad took rooms there earlier this month, while others have remained in their own residences in Rome. All of the cardinal-electors will be staying at the St. Martha residence throughout the conclave. On Sunday evening they will all have dinner together there.
On Monday morning, the cardinals will concelebrate Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the dean of the College of Cardinals as the principal celebrant. That afternoon at 4:30, their formal procession from the apostolic palace into the Sistine Chapel will be broadcast live on television.
Once inside the Sistine Chapel, the cardinals will swear a solemn oath-- first collectively, then individually-- vowing to maintain the secrecy of the conclave, to abide by the rule set forth in Universi Dominici Gregis for the papal election, and if elected to serve faithfully as Roman Pontiff. Following the administration of that oath, Cardinal Tomas Spidlik will preach a meditation, exhorting the electors to be diligent in their work and open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Then the doors of the chapel are closed, and the work of the papal election begins.
Navarro-Valls said that the cardinals will decide on Monday afternoon whether or not they should take a vote immediately. Universi Dominici Gregis allows for one ballot on the first day of the conclave.
On subsequent days, the Vatican press spokesman said, the schedule for the conclave will begin at 7:30 will Mass concelebrated in the chapel of the St. Martha residence. At 9 the cardinals will assemble in the Sistine Chapel to pray Lauds from the Liturgy of the Hours, and then proceed with voting. Universi Dominici Gregis calls for 2 votes each morning, and 2 each afternoon. The afternoon voting session will begin at 4, Navarro-Valls said; it will be followed by the recitation of Vespers.
In both the morning and the afternoon sessions, the 2 prescribed votes are to be held with one ballot immediately following the other-- unless, of course, the first ballot produces a final result. Navarro-Valls pointed out that if the votes are inconclusive, the ballots from both votes will be burned together. As an aid to reporters, the Vatican spokesman noted that the morning vote sessions would probably finish at about noon, and the afternoon sessions as about 7-- thus those would be the times to watch for the telltale smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. He also reminded reporters that when the vote is conclusive, and a new Pontiff is selected, the bells of Vatican basilica will be rung, summoning the faithful to St. Peter's Square for the historic announcement.
Cardinals Prepare for a Difficult Choice
Apr 16, 2:00 PM (ET)
By BRIAN MURPHY
VATICAN CITY (AP) - Behind the thick oak doors of the Sistine Chapel, the cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church will do more than pick the next pope. Their deliberations - which begin Monday - also serve as a critical judgment on what the faith needs most as pressures close in from all directions.
The cardinals often mentioned as possible papal successors have already made their voices heard - addressing the world's 1.1 billion Catholics and their fellow red-hatted "princes of the church" expected at the first conclave in more than a quarter century.
Every speech, text and public gesture has been pored over in recent years for clues about each man's style and priorities.
"They must pick the 21st century pope and address 21st century questions," said the Rev. Giovanni D'Ercole, a commentator on Vatican affairs. "It may not be easy."
On one end is the blunt tone of the German theologian-scholar Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who has taken on everything from rock music to Muslim Turkey's European Union bid in his role as the Vatican's chief watchdog for doctrine. He may be the only papal prospect with an online fan club.
A more nuanced path is followed by Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, who has reached out to Islamic leaders but also has encouraged Jewish settlement of the Holy Land. The Latin Americans considered "papabile" - the Italian word for papal candidates - speak forcefully about confronting poverty.
But none have signaled any support for major policy reversals such as easing opposition to contraception or dropping priestly celibacy. It's a fact that pro-reform Catholics are slowly absorbing: Priests do not rise to cardinal by challenging the system.
The conclave, with 115 cardinals under the age of 80 and eligible to vote, must juggle multiple demands and make some hard choices. With no clear papal favorite, the outcome likely will be about compromise and what new priorities attract the biggest following.
There's geography: Do they note that nearly half the world's Catholics are in Latin America and select a "new world" pope for the first time? Or reward the vibrant African Catholics with a pope of their own? Or choose a leader who could reinvigorate a fading flock in Europe?
There are internal dilemmas, including how to reverse the priest and nun shortage in the West, stabilize the money-losing Vatican finances and restore credibility following crippling clergy sex scandals in the United States and elsewhere. The cardinals also must ask: Who among them can handle the important dialogue with Islam and other contemporary moral quandaries like cloning and biotechnology?
Rising above it all may be the powerful legacy of the charismatic Pope John Paul II. The cardinals heard the cries from pilgrims last week at the pontiff's funeral: "Santo subito!" - meaning make him a saint immediately.
"The church cannot go backward," said Fernando Segovia, a theologian at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. "The new pope must be someone who also can relate to the people as a pastor and leader. This could be the biggest force in the conclave. If the cardinals ignore this momentum, the church could suffer a serious blow."
The process begins Monday with a special Mass. Then comes the conclave. The cardinals are cut off from the rest of the world until they reach a decision.
Cardinals will decide after taking their oath Monday whether they will take a first vote that day or wait until Tuesday. Then it's four rounds a day until two-thirds of the cardinals - at least 77 - back one name. If no pope emerges late in the second week, a simple majority can vote to change the rules so a winner can be elected by a majority - at least 58.
It took eight ballots over three days in October 1978 to elect the first Polish pope. The prelate who appears this time in the central window of St. Peter's Basilica will be caught in the reflected glare of John Paul's history-making papacy.
His every move will - at least initially - be measured against John Paul. As one placard read last week in St. Peter's Square: "What would JP-Two do?"
But the late pope's decisive moments came during the Cold War. His successor inherits a very different world.
The world's richest nations "must search an alternative global program where all have the possibility to integrate themselves and no one remains outside," Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes said in 2002. "There will be no future if things go on as they now stand."
A book of 110 newspaper columns written by Hummes - ranging from land reform to drug abuse to human cloning - was released last week in Brazil to capitalize on the buzz about him as a contender.
The book, "Dialogue with the City," includes harsh denunciations of "greedy and powerful" landholders who police believe ordered the February slaying of American nun Dorothy Stang, a longtime defender of land rights for poor settlers in the Amazon rain forest.
Hummes, 70, also holds the line on Catholic teachings regarding abortion and human cloning, which he called a "serious moral crime."
In September 2003, Hummes told a U.N. meeting on AIDS that it is "one of the major tragedies of our time," but must be addressed by education and sexual abstinence rather than condoms.
Another Latin American cardinal, Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, 62, of Honduras, also has lashed out at inequalities.
"We are not moving simply toward a globalization of markets ... but we are moving toward the globalization of poverty," he said in 2003.
But some of his sharpest - and most conflicted - comments have come following the priest sex abuse scandals in the United States. In a 2002 Vatican news conference, he called pedophilia an "illness" that cannot be tolerated in the priesthood. In a later interview with the Italian magazine 30 Giorni, or 30 Days, he decried the judicial "witch hunts" against U.S. clergy.
"(It) reminds me of the time of Nero, Diocletian and, more recently, of Stalin and Hitler," he was quoted as saying.
Italian Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, 71, told the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano in 1997 that "very grave personal and social risks" stem from giving gay and lesbian couples full civil rights such as marriage and adoption.
Another Italian contender, Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice, 63, carries a similar conservative outlook. On calls for women priests, Scola told reporters in 1997: "The church does not have the power to modify the practice, uninterrupted for 2,000 years, of calling only men."
Cardinal Francis Arinze, 72, a Vatican-based Nigerian, also taken a hard stance against liberal pressures on the church led by American Catholics.
The family is "mocked" by homosexuality and calls to recognize gay marriages, he told a Georgetown University audience in May 2003. Last year, Arinze suggested Catholic politicians supporting abortion are "not fit" to receive Communion. He made the same judgment for militant members of Rainbow Sash, a Roman Catholic gay rights group that has tried to provoke confrontations with clergy.
Arinze, however, stands out as a leading voice for better Christian-Muslim dialogue - a central part of his interfaith work at the Vatican since the 1980s.
"It matters very much, not only to Islam and Christianity, but also to the world how the followers of these two religions relate to one another and how they envisage these relationships at this turning point in history," Arinze told the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in Washington.
Schoenborn, of Austria, could encounter more skepticism from Islamic leaders.
In a March speech at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, he said Christians must support a Jewish presence in the Holy Land as part of biblical prophecy.
"Only once in human history did God take a country as an inheritance and give it to His chosen people," The Jerusalem Post quoted Schoenborn as saying.
Schoenborn added that "we are all longing" for a solution to end Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But he's been less clear on hot button issues in Europe, including whether to accept Turkey as a full EU member.
Ratzinger, however, has been an unwavering defender of Europe's Christian essence.
"Turkey has always represented a different continent, in permanent contrast to Europe," he told the French magazine Le Figaro last year.
Ratzinger - as the Vatican's chief doctrinal overseer since 1981 - offers the broadest range of writings and comments of any of the possible papal successors.
In 1986, he scorned rock music as a "vehicle of anti-religion." Last year, he told American bishops that it was appropriate to deny Communion to those who support such "manifest grave sin" as abortion and euthanasia.
In a book released Wednesday, "Values in a Time of Upheavals," Ratzinger dismissed demands for European "multiculturalism" as a "fleeing from what is one's own." He also wrote that "marriage and family are essential for European identity."
Yet in another book, "Salt of the Earth" in 1997, Ratzinger showed flashes of a pastoral side and sensitivity for the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council from 1962-65, when he was considered a leader among forward-thinking theologians.
"Christianity must rise again like the mustard seed, in insignificantly small groups whose members intensively live in combat with what is evil in the world while demonstrating what is good," wrote Ratzinger, who turned 78 on Saturday. "They are the salt of the earth, the vessels of the faith."
Cardinals Want New Pope to Bridge Divides
Apr 16, 2:05 PM (ET)
By VICTOR L. SIMPSON
VATICAN CITY (AP) - The worldwide outpouring of affection for Pope John Paul II may have convinced the cardinals choosing his successor that today's Roman Catholic Church has no room for a so-called "transitional" leader.
The profile of a pope who knows how to communicate and to bridge cultural and religious divides fits a number of the 115 cardinals assembling in the conclave that begins Monday. Those contenders include Brazil's Claudio Hummes, Argentina's Jorge Bergoglio and Austria's Christoph Schoenborn.
Both Hummes, 70, and Bergoglio, 68, have been highly visible advocates for the poor, questioning the benefits of globalization and free-market policies. Schoenborn is the model of a modern churchman - a multilingual scholar who has reached out to Jews, Muslims and Orthodox Christians - although at 60 he may be considered too young.
Certainly, the election of Hummes or another Latin American could have a profound impact on the region, home to nearly half the world's 1 billion Roman Catholics, which is facing a strong challenge from evangelical Protestants and social tensions from the growing divide between rich and poor.
Much as the election of Poland's John Paul marked the church's response to communism in eastern Europe during the Cold War, the election of an able Latin American could signal the church's stand in support of the world's poor and oppressed.
The election of a cardinal like German Joseph Ratzinger, 78, whose stock appeared high as the cardinals gathered in Rome for John Paul's funeral, would mean a transition papacy. The selection of Hummes or another younger man would be a sign that the cardinals want to keep up John Paul's dynamism.
In interviews published in the most recent issue of the Jesuit weekly America, several cardinals described the qualities required of the next pontiff.
Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles dismissed the possibility of a pope from such countries as France or Germany, where "practically nobody goes to church."
"What we are looking for is how to have the future pope be somebody who represents a dynamic part of the world," Mahony said.
Cardinal Julius Darmaatmadja of Indonesia said John Paul "was accepted as a human being and as a moral leader" by people of different religions. The next pope will be someone who can bridge the differences and communicate with people of different cultures, he said.
By official Italian count, more than 3 million pilgrims streamed past the body of Pope John Paul II as he lay in state in St. Peter's Basilica. David Gibson, a former Vatican radio newsman and author of "The Coming Catholic Church," said the public displays for John Paul "recalibrated" the cardinals' views.
"I think there was a realization that they have to make a more dramatic move than they would have before," Gibson said.
"The thing it made them realize is how much John Paul personalized the papacy and made it authority by charisma, so there's a sense that you need someone who can also wield authority by who he is, rather than just what he said."
From their records, no one under consideration as the next pope shows any break with John Paul's stand against contraception, his campaigns against abortion and gay marriage or his opposition to women priests or a non-celibate priesthood.
Those close to Hummes in Brazil, however, believe he would be a balanced pontiff.
"He would be a modern pope who will know how to balance traditional Christian ideas with concern for the poor," said Lourdes Hummes Graf, the cardinal's cousin.
Hummes' reputation has been strengthened by his long support for Brazil's working class. As a bishop 30 years ago, he gave refuge to metalworkers staging an illegal strike - among them a fiery union leader named Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is now Brazil's president.
Bergoglio's critics say he did not take a strong enough stand against Argentina's 1976-83 military dictatorship, but his defenders say his opposition came behind the scenes. In 2000, he led an effort by the church seeking public forgiveness for its inaction - in line with John Paul's frequent calls for the church to recognize its failings.
In Buenos Aires, a human rights lawyer, Marcelo Parrilli, also filed a criminal complaint against Bergoglio on Friday, accusing him of involvement in the 1976 kidnappings of two priests. No specifics were given and the cardinal's spokesman rejected the allegations, calling them "old slander."
A transitional pope would presumably keep travel down, in contrast to the 104 foreign pilgrimages John Paul made during his 26-year papacy, but even he would apparently already be locked into at least one trip.
The German church, a major financial contributor to the Vatican, has gone ahead in organizing a youth event in August in Cologne that John Paul had agreed to attend. Hundreds of thousands of youths are expected and millions of dollars have already been spent.
Murky Intrigue Shrouds Conclave Countdown for Pope
Apr 16, 11:43 AM (ET)
By Steve Pagani
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The countdown to the conclave to elect a new pope combines the tension of a nomination to the U.S. presidency with the intrigue that surrounded the rise of a Caesar in ancient Rome.
With the period of respectful silence after the death of Pope John Paul II now over, Italian newspapers have launched into tangled speculation over who is tipped to become the next pontiff and whose star is on the wane.
Top contender mid-week in many newspapers was the late Pope's close aide and arch-ideologue Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. But by Saturday, some of the same newspapers were giving Germany's most famous Roman Catholic son the thumbs-down.
Most commentators agreed Ratzinger seemed able to attract a bloc of conservatives in a first ballot of the 115 cardinal electors scheduled for Monday or Tuesday.
But they said he seemed unlikely to gain the 77 votes needed to become the 264th successor to the first pope, St. Peter.
"Cardinal Ratzinger's candidacy has lost momentum," Il Messaggero newspaper said.
What could happen, newspapers said, is the conservatives, among them Latin Americans and some Germans, might in a first vote show their support for traditionalist Ratzinger who turned 78 on Saturday.
Leading Church historian Paul Collins, speaking on the sidelines of a news conference in Rome of the Catholic reform group We Are Church, said he doubted Ratzinger's chances.
"There will be more progressive forces working within the conclave to oppose him," Collins said.
Newspapers agreed. In the murky intrigues surrounding the conclave, the progressives may back a "no-hope" candidate such as retired archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, who is 78 and suffering from a form of Parkinson's Disease.
"They will vote for Martini not to elect him ... but to show there are other possibilities than choosing Ratzinger," Corriere della Sera said.
Irish bookmaker Paddy Power said the conclave was getting to be a bigger non-sporting betting event than the Oscars.
"We are up to taking over eight thousand bets. You are talking about over 150,000 euros ($193,000) in bets," a Paddy Power spokesman said.
He said Ratzinger, Martini and French Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger were hot favorites, but things could change rapidly.
WHISPERS IN CORRIDORS
Pages of profiles and commentary on the leading contenders have filled newspapers as if it were the runup to a U.S. political convention.
While all cardinals are sworn to secrecy, at least two newspapers said whispers in the corridors are now bearing a new name -- Colombian cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos.
He works at the Vatican as head of the Congregation of the Clergy and is passionate about new technology. He uses the Internet and videoconferencing to train priests -- a fitting candidate for the first conclave of the 21st century.
Also nodding toward Latin America, Il Giornale gave space to Cardinal Claudio Hummes of Brazil. Historian Collins said the region was where most Catholics lived and much Latin American culture is derived from Europe.
"It just seems the right place at the right time," he said.
Over past days, commentators have variously leaned toward Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, Nigeria's Cardinal Francis Arinze and Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn of Austria.
But outsiders may emerge as a compromise figure, as did Polish cardinal Karol Wojtyla in 1978 before becoming pope.
"The word going around is that there is as much uncertainty as there was before the conclave which elected Wojtyla," Corriere della Sera said.
This time two camps could also emerge. After the first votes, moderates could rally around Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, the 71-year-old archbishop of Milan, and Rome's Cardinal Camillo Ruini could become the conservatives' standard bearer.
In 1978, cardinals voted themselves into an impasse with arch-conservative Cardinal Giuseppe Siri of Genoa on one side and the more moderate Cardinal Giovanni Benelli of Florence on the other. That time the "princes of the Church" turned to Poland.
(Additional reporting by Trevor Huggins in Rome)
Outline of a Ratzinger papacy
By John L. Allen, Jr.
Despite the nonstop speculation surrounding the conclave that opens April 18, the press seems to have at least one thing right: in the early stages: The balloting will likely shape up as a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the candidacy of German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the so-called “Panzer-Kardinal” who for 24 years was John Paul’s top doctrinal czar.
Given the strong, polarizing stands Ratzinger has taken, it’s not clear that there are really 77 votes for him among the 115 voting cardinals, the number it would take to achieve a two-thirds majority. On the other hand, Ratzinger’s strong base of support means one has to take his prospects seriously.
What would a Ratzinger papacy look like?
In the main, it would likely take shape along predictable lines. Ratzinger would mount a strenuous defense of Catholic identity, resisting enticements from secular culture to water down church teaching and practice; he would stress “Culture of Life” issues, doing battle against gay marriage, euthanasia and stem cell research; he would ensure that theological speculation is contained within narrow limits. He would likely travel less, and project a more ethereal style reminiscent of Pius XII. Ratzinger’s governing metaphor for the church of the future is the mustard seed – it may have to be smaller to be faithful, what he calls a “creative minority.”
One can also, however, anticipate elements of a Ratzinger pontificate that would come as a surprise, and that would mark a departure from the policies of John Paul II.
Letting institutions go
One of the longest controversies in the United States during John Paul’s papacy came over Catholic colleges and universities. The pope asked Catholic theologians to receive a mandatum, or license, from their local bishop, certifying their orthodoxy. After years of resistance, the U.S. bishops approved norms in 1999 that gave the Vatican most of what it wanted.
Under Ratzinger, the Vatican would be less likely to expend resources to preserve institutions it perceives as already lost to secularism. In his memoirs Milestones, Ratzinger reflected on the German church’s struggle to hold onto its schools under the Nazis. “It dawned on me that, with their insistence on preserving institutions, [the bishops] in part misread the reality. Merely to guarantee institutions is useless if there are no people to support those institutions from inner conviction.”
In the case of at least some colleges, Ratzinger’s instinct would thus be to drop the pretense that these are still Catholic institutions. He spelled this out in a book-length interview called Salt of the Earth: “Once the church has acquired some good or position, she inclines to defend it. The capacity for self-moderation and self-pruning is not adequately developed .... it’s precisely the fact that the church clings to the institutional structure when nothing really stands behind it any longer that brings the church into disrepute.”
The point applies also to hospitals, social service centers, and other institutions.
Shrinking church government
Because Ratzinger is the prime theoretician of papal authority, it is often assumed that under him the Vatican would take on even more massive proportions. In fact, like most conservatives, Ratzinger feels an instinctive aversion to big government. He believes that bureaucracies become self-perpetuating and take on their own agendas, rarely reflecting the best interests of the people they are intended to serve.
“The power typical of political rule or technical management cannot be and must not be the style of the church’s power," Ratzinger wrote in 1988’s A New Song for the Lord. “In the past two decades an excessive amount of institutionalization has come about in the church, which is alarming. … Future reforms should therefore aim not at the creation of yet more institutions, but at their reduction.”
While Ratzinger would not hesitate to make decisions in Rome that others believe should be the province of the local church – revoking imprimaturs, replacing translations, dismissing theologians – he would not erect a large new Vatican apparatus for this purpose. Ratzinger would encourage bishops’ conferences and dioceses to shed layers of bureaucracy where possible. The overall thrust would be for smaller size, less paperwork, and more focus on core concerns.
Many Vatican watchers believe that one weakness of John Paul’s pontificate was his episcopal appointments. Some have been spectacularly bad, such as Wolfgang Haas in Switzerland, Hans Hermann Gröer and Kurt Krenn in Austria, and Jan Gijsen in Holland. Bellicose and divisive, these bishops destabilized their respective dioceses, countries and bishops’ conferences. Krenn, for example, recently resigned in disgrace following sexual scandals in his seminary in Sankt Pölten.
In 1985, the pope’s personal secretary Stanislaw Dziwisz, a friend of Krenn, told the Congregation for Bishops that the pope had Krenn in mind as the new archbishop of Vienna. Ratzinger actually blocked Krenn’s appointment. Ratzinger knew that Krenn would be a disaster in a high-profile forum such as Vienna.
Given his long years of evaluating potential prelates (he serves on the Congregation for Bishops), Ratzinger knows the backgrounds of potential appointees, and would be able to spot potential problems. Backdoor channels would be less likely to generate surprise picks.
While Ratzinger’s appointments would be solidly conservative, they would also generally be men of intelligence and administrative skill.
Whether any of this would be sufficient to overcome opposition to Ratzinger from the church’s liberal wing remains to be seen, but it does suggest the possibility for the unexpected.
Argentine Cardinal Accused in Kidnappings
Apr 16, 11:48 AM (ET)
By JORGE COVARRUBIAS
VATICAN CITY (AP) - Just days before Roman Catholic cardinals select a new pope, a human rights lawyer filed a criminal complaint against an Argentine mentioned as a possible contender, accusing him of involvement in the 1976 kidnappings of two priests.
Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio's spokesman on Saturday called the allegation "old slander."
The complaint filed in a Buenos Aires court Friday by human rights lawyer Marcelo Parrilli accused Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, of involvement in the kidnappings of two Jesuit priests by the military dictatorship, according to the Buenos Aires newspaper Clarin. The complaint does not specify Bergoglio's alleged involvement.
The priests were released after five months.
"This is old slander," the Rev. Guillermo Marco, Bergoglio's spokesman, told The Associated Press in Rome. "This is the week of slander."
Under Argentine law, an accusation can be filed with a very low threshold of evidence. The court later decides whether there is cause to investigate and file charges.
The Italian newspaper Corriere dell Sera called the accusations "an infamy fueled by Bergoglio's enemies," saying Saturday that far from participating in the kidnappings, the cardinal helped win the priests' freedom. It did not detail its sources.
The accusations against Bergoglio, 68, in the kidnappings of priests Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics are not new, being detailed in a recently published book by Argentine journalist Horacio Verbitsky.
Marco called Verbitsky "a gentleman of dubious fame who is advertising himself to sell a book," saying the journalist was "taking advantage of this moment."
"A lawsuit does not mean there will be a trial," he added.
Marco said the book was baseless.
"There is no proof," he said. "There is never anyone quoted by name. Of the two (priests), one is dead and Father Jalics was at the Jubilee in 2000 together with the cardinal, with whom he has good relations. There are photos of them together."
Verbitsky could not be reached for comment.
In May 1976, during Argentina's brutal military dictatorship, Yorio and Jalics were kidnapped by a team from the Argentine navy. They surfaced five months later, drugged and seminude, in a field outside Buenos Aires.
At the time, Bergoglio was the superior in the Company of Jesus of Argentina, and some priests were toying with the idea of taking up arms against the dictatorship. According to some associates, the two priests were in disagreement with the company because of their activism.
Bergoglio asked them to leave their pastoral work in some of Argentina's poorest neighborhoods until the political situation changed, and when the priests said no, Bergoglio removed them from the order.
But according to some accounts, Bergoglio was instrumental in winning freedom for the men by pressuring the head of the navy, Emilio Massera.
Bergoglio was removed as the order's superior in 1979. He kept a low profile until 1992, when he was designated auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires and began a climb through the ecclesiastic hierarchy in South America's second-largest country.
An advocate for the poor, he has championed social programs and won public respect for questioning free-market policies he blames for leaving millions of Argentines impoverished. Nonetheless, his conservative leanings on doctrinal and spiritual issues are widely seen as in keeping with the legacy of Pope John Paul II.
Marco refused to discuss the possible impact of the lawsuit on Bergoglio's chances of becoming pope. Cardinals usually take great pains not to appear to be promoting themselves for the church's highest office.
"No candidacy will fall apart, because we never thought of that possibility," he said. "We're very calm."
If chosen, Bergoglio would become the first Jesuit pontiff.
Associated Press reporter Kevin Gray in Buenos Aires, Argentina, contributed to this story.
Papal Elections Have Surprising History
Apr 16, 1:55 AM (ET)
By WILLIAM J. KOLE
VATICAN CITY (AP) - One papal election held during a sizzling Roman summer had cardinals collapsing of dehydration and heart attacks. The top candidate eventually died, and the pope who emerged from a sweaty inferno worthy of Dante survived only 2 1/2 weeks.
Another vote dragged on for more than three years. It might have gone longer had exasperated citizens not torn the roof off the cardinals' meeting hall and put them on a bread and water diet.
Shrouded in secrecy and steeped in centuries of tradition, the ancient practice of appointing a successor to St. Peter is serious business - but there's always the chance that things will get out of hand.
Rev. Thomas Reese, editor of the Catholic weekly magazine America, likens the process to a restaurant that wants to serve customers a gourmet meal "but doesn't want them to stick their noses in the kitchen, lest they lose their appetites."
The 115 crimson-robed cardinals sequestering themselves inside the Sistine Chapel on Monday will be voting in a cool April instead of a hellish August. They'll also be enjoying greater creature comforts in the Vatican's new, $20 million Domus Sanctae Marthae residence than their predecessors did in the musty, cramped quarters of the Apostolic Palace.
But with the advent of 24-hour news and the emergence of sophisticated snooping technology, neither of which existed when John Paul II was elected, there is still the potential for confusion during the first conclave in a quarter-century.
The term "conclave" comes from the Latin for "with a key," reflecting the tradition of locking cardinals into a room until the job was done. John Paul's constitution for next week's conclave makes no mention of a key; it says merely that the chapel doors are to be closed and two Swiss Guards posted at every entrance.
Historically, the chances of something unusual happening increased as an election wore on. In medieval days, electors took their time picking popes, who enjoyed sweeping political powers. That's changed with the papacy: No conclave in the past century has exceeded five days.
Yet even in 1978, when two papal elections were held in rapid succession, the first vote was tinged with chaos.
The cardinals who elected John Paul I after casting four ballots over two days met in August, a month so oppressively hot that Rome typically empties as residents flee to cooler corners of Italy.
"We were dying of heat, asphyxiation seemed to be getting the upper hand, and I noticed that some cardinals were on the verge of collapse," Cardinal Giuseppe Siri, a perennial candidate for the papacy who died in 1989, once recalled in an interview with the newspaper La Stampa.
"Then I rebelled, and with the authority of a member of the supervising committee, I said: 'I order you to open the windows,'" Siri said. "Some responded: 'Eminence, it is not permitted to open the windows,'" because the faithful packing St. Peter's Square would be able to hear the cardinals' applause when the new pope was elected.
"I responded, 'What if they hear?' They opened the windows. Color began to return to the faces of the moribund," he said.
The madness didn't end there. Black smoke is supposed to waft from the Sistine Chapel's chimney if morning or afternoon balloting fails to produce a pontiff; white smoke ultimately signals the cardinals have a new pope.
John Paul I's smoke came out gray, unleashing frenzied debate among journalists and the public watching from the square. To eliminate that particular confusion when a successor to John Paul II is chosen, the Vatican also will ring bells.
The concept of the modern conclave dates to 1274, when Gregory X decided cardinals would eat, sleep and vote in the same locked chamber. It's not difficult to understand why - the conclave in the town of Viterbo north of Rome that elected him pope began in 1268 and lasted more than three years.
"Toward the end, the people of Viterbo became so impatient that they tore the roof off the building in which the cardinals were lodged and put them on a diet of bread and water," Vatican expert John L. Allen, Jr., writes in his book "Conclave."
Gregory was so worried about a repeat, he decreed that cardinals would get just one daily plate of food if a conclave stretched beyond three days, and be served only bread, water and wine if the deadlock exceeded eight days.
The conclaves of old exacted a heavy toll.
Eight cardinals and 40 of their assistants died of malaria during a sweltering 19-day conclave in 1623.
The prelates who convened in 1241 to eventually pick Pope Celestine IV were locked into a room during a Roman heat wave and didn't emerge for 70 days.
"The cardinals left behind diaries complaining of headaches, collapses, even heart attacks. At one point the leading candidate, Cardinal Roberto di Somercotes, died," Allen writes. "The new pope himself survived the conclave by only 17 days."
Cardinals Vote in Latin, Schmooze in Italian
Apr 16, 7:19 AM (ET)
By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - When Roman Catholic cardinals vote in the Vatican for a new pope next week, they will swear an oath before God in Latin and then cast ballots written in the Church's official language.
Any canvassing for votes or comparing of notes between ballots, though, will almost certainly be done in Italian. Most "princes of the Church" would be lost if a cardinal sidled up to them and began sounding them out in whispered Latin.
The classical language served the Church for centuries as the link among the top Catholic clergy. The 115 cardinals who will elect the next pope come from all corners of the globe and have several dozen mother tongues among them.
But the demise of Latin within the Church, which stopped using it for Mass in 1965 and dropped it at its Rome-based universities for priests soon afterwards, has meant the Vatican's everyday language, Italian, has become the norm.
"We manage to communicate with each other. Most of the cardinals speak Italian," explained London's Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, who learned the language fluently as student in Rome in the 1950s. "It would be rare to find one who doesn't."
Many other cardinals picked it up the same way after being sent to Rome for the pontifical university degree or Vatican job that signals a man on his way up the Church career ladder.
Speaking Italian has even become an unwritten requirement for the papacy. Polish-born Pope John Paul won over surprised Roman crowds at St. Peter's Square on the night of his election in 1978 by addressing them right away in fluent Italian.
"I do not know if I can express myself well in your ... our Italian language. If I make a mistake, correct me," he said.
NO JOKES, PLEASE
Given their ages, all but the youngest cardinals would have said Latin prayers at daily Mass before the Second Vatican Council decided in 1965 to switch to local languages.
But reciting texts is easy, conversing off the cuff is hard.
"I joke with cardinals in Latin ... and most don't laugh," Father Reginald Foster, a Latin teacher at the Pontifical Gregorian University here, remarked with clear disapproval. "Some say they have no idea what I'm saying."
Among the few who can is Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who is tipped as a frontrunner in the race for the papacy. Some East Europeans have also kept up the tradition, Foster said.
Others try but their Latin "is on the spaghetti side," said Foster, meaning it sounded more Italian, which like French and Spanish developed over the centuries out of Latin. Many Italian and Latin words are so close they are easy to guess.
According to Italian media, most cardinals speaking to the pre-conclave sessions known as the "congregatio generalis" (general congregation) addressed their colleagues in Italian.
They said about one in eight speeches was held in the outside world's international language, English.
While most politicians instinctively reach for the headphones at international meetings, the men who have made it to cardinal rank in the Church are usually linguists who have spent at least several years studying in a foreign country.
Pope John Paul used to speak Polish with his personal secretary, German with main doctrinal specialist, Italian with many cardinals and English, French and Spanish with visitors.
"In Rome, you usually start in Italian," Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick said when asked how he communicated with other cardinals. "But many of them speak English.
"I can speak Italian, French, Spanish and German, so I can usually get by," he said. "I really wish I knew Arabic. That would really be great."