The Vatican rumour mill

There is nothing Rome likes better than intrigue

by Tim Hedges on 22 February 2013 13:45

There is nothing Rome likes better than intrigue. The whole city seems drawn to rumour like a moth to a flame, and at the moment, in the period between Benedict’s announcement of his resignation and the beginning of the Conclave, there is plenty of grist to the rumour mill.

Pretty well all the 117 cardinals who can vote have now arrived here and whilst they do not themselves chatter, their supporters do.

One of the interesting figures amongst the runners and riders is Marc Ouellet, the French Canadian (but multi-lingual) cardinal, who holds the post of Prefect for the Congregation of Bishops. This means he has had a say in the appointment of many bishops of the worldwide church, among them, interestingly, Angelo Scola, who is also hotly tipped.

But the favourite, inasmuch as the bookies can measure probability in such a matter, remains Peter Turkson of Ghana.
Someone reminded me the other day that John Paul II was said to have believed that the Pope should be European. This is sometimes interpreted as the view that it is Europe which needs working on, rather than the opposing view that the Church should point to where its faithful live, which is in vast majority south of the equator.

Turkson has spoken about the need to evangelise those who are embracing ‘alternative lifestyles, trends or gender issues’ – a reference to the northern hemisphere – whilst stressing that Africa’s views on homosexuality are clear cut.

Is this an attempt to appeal to both sides?

Pope Benedict is now said to be about to issue a decree – called a Motu – to bring the Conclave forward, such that there will be a new Pope in time for Holy Week (24th-31st March). Some murmur he must have a motive for this; I rather think it may be to stop the intrigue.

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