Skip to comments.Conclave in View, Everyone Backing Away From Francis
Posted on 07/13/2021 12:01:05 PM PDT by ebb tide
For the future conclave they do not set aside so much as a line. And yet, twin books recently released in Italy end up there inexorably.
The first is entitled “La Chiesa brucia” and the second “Il gregge smarrito.” Both diagnose a poor state of health in the Church, with a marked deterioration during none other than the current pontificate.
But their authors are by no means opponents of Pope Francis. The first book is signed by Andrea Riccardi, Church historian and founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio, highly influential with the pope, who often receives him in private audience and has entrusted to him - among other things - the direction of the splashy interreligious summit presided over by Francis himself last October 20 in the Piazza del Campidoglio. While the second book is signed by a newly hatched association called “Essere qui” whose numero uno is Giuseppe De Rita, 89, founder of CENSIS and dean of Italian sociologists, as well as the protagonist of a period of post-conciliar Catholicism that had its key event in 1976 in a major Church assembly on “Evangelization and human promotion.”
In his book it is precisely the broad outline of that long-ago conference that De Rita proposes as the model for the Church today, as opposed - in his view - to what John Paul II and Benedict XVI are seen as having done with their sterile insistence on evangelization alone, neglecting human promotion and the network of social relations.
In the meantime, however, not only has secularization withered away a large part of Catholicism, especially in the West, but there has also been the spread of that anthropological revolution which has radically changed the idea of birth, procreation, death, free will, in a word the very idea of man, far removed from that of the Bible, masterfully brought to light by what is perhaps the most beautiful document produced by the Holy See in recent years, signed by the pontifical biblical commission and entitled “What is man?”
On the challenge posed by this anthropological revolution and on the Church’s response, there is little or nothing in both books. Their analytical horizon is narrow, when instead what is at stake is epochal, analogous to that of Christianity in the first centuries, which without assimilating with or separating from the largely alien and hostile surrounding world was able to enter into a strongly critical relationship with it, at the same time exerting an extraordinary cultural influence on society, in the Christian sense.
It should be noted that the author of the first book, Riccardi, is also a leading member of the “Essere qui” association that is responsible for the second book, together with other personalities such as Romano Prodi, former president of the European commission and former head of the Italian government, Gennaro Acquaviva, the socialist party’s contributor to the 1984 concordat between the Holy See and Italy, Ferruccio De Bortoli, former editor of the leading Italian daily, “Corriere della Sera.”
All present themselves as a “think tank” offered to the Church for its journey. Without criticizing any part of the current pontificate, but not exalting it either. They speak of it little and in an elusive way, as if standing at a distance from a trajectory that has now reached its end. Which is exactly their premise for reasoning about the future pope.
Francis is a known quantity. He has his favorites for the succession. The first is the Filipino cardinal, a bit Chinese on his mother's side, Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle, prefect of “Propaganda Fide” and for this reason one of the best known cardinals in the world.
For Tagle, it is objected, there is the obstacle of age. He is 64 years old and therefore could reign too long for cardinal electors to bet on him. But above all he is considered too close to Jorge Mario Bergoglio not to end up overwhelmed by the many grievances over the current pontificate, which will inexorably come into the open in a future conclave.
For this reason Tagle has been lying low for some time, he who in the early years of the current pontificate had been so active and vocal. He is prudently keeping his distance, all the more so now that the pontificate is at an end and its shortcomings are increasingly evident.
In particular, Tagle has shrewdly put a damper on that interpretation of Vatican Council II as a rupture and new beginning which he learned during his theology studies in New York, at the school of Joseph Komonchak, and then set down in writing, under his signature, in a key chapter in the history of the Council that is the most widely read in the world, produced by the so-called “school of Bologna” founded by Fr. Giuseppe Dossetti and Giuseppe Alberigo.
Another cardinal dear to Francis is the German Reinhard Marx, 68, enrolled by the pope in 2013 into the small group of cardinals called to assist him in the government of the universal Church and promoted in the curia to the presidency of the council for the economy.
It is true that the “synodal path” set in motion in Germany, with Marx among the promoters, seriously distresses Francis, on account of its disruptive objectives. But the pope continues to keep this cardinal close, perhaps planning to call on him to put the brakes on the skid.
But to all appearances Marx means to play on his own and distance himself from a closeness to Bergoglio that could harm him in a conclave. He has left the presidency of the German bishops’ conference and above all - asserting a collective responsibility of the bishops in the sexual abuse scandal - offered his resignation as archbishop of Munich and Freising.
The pope refused this, but some observers have interpreted the cardinal's move as aimed precisely at Marx’s self-nomination for the succession, naturally for a pontificate that would mark the drastic overriding of “Roman Catholicism,” in deference to the secular anti-Roman complex of the Catholic Church of Germany, always tempted by an assimilation to Protestantism.
Then there are the cardinals who to Francis are the most distasteful. Angelo Becciu is so unbearable for him that the pope brutally stripped him ten months ago - without any explanation and before any due process - of all the “rights” of the cardinalate, including access to the conclave.
Properly speaking Becciu was never a papabile, but a major elector yes, thanks in part to his membership in the international network of cardinals and bishops who are friends of the Focolare movement, one of the ecclesiastical lobbies most serviceable in arriving at consensus. By putting Becciu out of the game with ignominy, Francis has in fact also disarmed the network that looked up to him.
Pietro Parolin is another of the cardinals that Bergoglio has contributed to removing from the list of the papabili. But properly speaking, Parolin has already put a lot of his own effort into disappointing those who initially saw him as a desirable successor, capable of setting back on the right course the ship of the Church in the storm created by Pope Francis, correcting his drifts without betraying his spirit.
In fact, since everyone can see the mayhem in the secretariat of state under his management, it is difficult to imagine that he is capable of governing the Church, which is a reality incomparably more vast and complex. Not to mention the chain of failures of his diplomatic initiatives, “in primis” with China.
Instead, among the moderates there are those who would gladly see on the chair of Peter a cardinal like the Hungarian Péter Erdô, 69, archbishop of Esztergom and Budapest and for ten years president of the council of the Catholic bishops’ conferences of Europe, highly appreciated by many also for having guided with wisdom and firmness, in the twofold synod on the family of which he was relator general, the resistance against the advocates of divorce and the new homosexual morality.
In two months Erdô will preside over the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress in Budapest, and Pope Francis will go there to celebrate the concluding Mass on September 12. This would be an excellent opportunity to shine a light on him as a high-profile personality of the college of cardinals, with many talents for being elected pope.
The fact is, however, that Bergoglio has tried every trick in the book to downplay his trip to Budapest and cast a shadow over this possible, but above all feared, successor of his. He first added and then extended to four days a visit to neighboring Slovakia, and in this way he has reduced his presence at the Eucharistic congress to a hasty stopover, visibly discharged against his will.
A successor like Erdô would certainly bring the papacy back into the furrow of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, meaning precisely those two popes seen as having interrupted - according to the two books cited at the beginning - the happy intertwining between Church and society, between “evangelization and human promotion,” of the first post-conciliar season.
Because it is instead Riccardi and company who would have the right candidate. He is Cardinal Matteo Zuppi (in the photo), 66, archbishop of Bologna and grandnephew of another cardinal, Carlo Confalonieri (1893-1986), who was also secretary to Pope Pius XI, but above all co-founder, with Riccardi, of the Community of Sant’Egidio, unquestionably the most powerful, influential, and omnipresent Catholic lobby of recent decades, at the worldwide level.
As general ecclesiastical assistant of the Community of Sant’Egidio and parish priest of the Roman basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere until 2010, as well as auxiliary bishop of Rome since that year, Zuppi has found himself at the center of an incomparable network of persons and events on a planetary scale, both religious and geopolitical, from the peace agreements in Mozambique of the years 1990-92 to today’s support for the secret agreement between the Holy See and China, from the interreligious meetings in Assisi to the “humanitarian corridors” for immigrants in Europe from Africa and Asia.
Having adapted like a chameleon to the two pontificates of Karol Wojtyla and Joseph Ratzinger, with Francis the Community of Sant’Egidio has reached its apogee, with Vincenzo Paglia at the head of the Vatican institutes for life and the family, with Matteo Bruni at the head of the press office, and above all with Zuppi, promoted as head of the archdiocese of Bologna, made a cardinal and now also in the running for the presidency of the Italian bishops’ conference.
The path from this point to his election as pope is by no means sure, but it is seriously in the order of things. All the more so with a college of cardinal electors in disarray, uncertain in their views and easily led, this time by a lobby not of cardinals - like the legendary “mafia” of St. Gallen that is said to have facilitated Bergoglio’s election - but one certainly more influential and decisive, that has that very name, Community of Sant’Egidio.
Zuppi likes to be called a “street cardinal,” as in the documentary he has already put into circulation, and he had the shrewdness to sign the preface to the Italian edition of the pro-LGBT book by the Jesuit James Martin, dearly beloved to Pope Francis.
But that’s just it. As the two books cited above prove, the time has come to back away from the reigning pope, if one aims to succeed him. After wringing out all the favors it could, the Sant’Egidio lobby has decided to put Francis on the shelf. The Church is burning, the flock is lost, it is time for a new pope. The two books trace his profile in their own way. Too bad that the aimlessness of both, on the real epochal challenges that the Church is called to face today, will not help him.
I’d guess they also back away from him any time there is a thunder storm on the horizon.
Notice that neither Bergoglio nor the Vatican have said anything to support or even acknowledge the struggle of the Cuban people right now.
I have a hard time imagining that anyone could be worse or more ill-suited for the job than Bergoglio, but then again I never imagined that anyone as bad as him would get the gig in the first place... so things have a way of exceeding even my worst expectations.
Of course not. Bergoglio is a man of the left who sees the Castros as heroes and champions of the poor. He never met a commie dictator he didn’t love.
We once had a Pope who helped to end Communism in Europe.
Now we have a Communist Pope.
Pretty sad, isn’t it.
None of the people who are being proposed as follow-ups seem any better, unfortunately.
Imagine what the next pope will be like. Frank has appointed lots of lefty cardinals. I cringe thinking about it.
The next Pope will now need to restore the Church.
The best next pope for the Church would be Cardinal Sarah.
The best next pope for the Church would be Cardinal Sarah.
Yes! yes! yes!
I wanted Cardinal Arinze last time, but he’s 88 now.
The Africans are the backbone of Church right now. It must be a result of better education and priestly formation.
Erdo and perhaps even Tagle or Zuppi would be better than the incumbent. That’s not saying much, I know.
Also the fact in many of those countries, the choice to be Catholic can put one’s life in danger.
I’d forgotten about Erdo, who is probably the only good one on the list. In the “handicapping” I read in the Spanish press, however, his chances are about zero.
Hungary is the place Bergoglio is going to skip through in a couple of hours on his fall Eastern Europe visit because he is angry about the Hungarians’ opposition to the gay agenda so dear to his heart.
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