Friday, October 22, 2004

Who's hot, who's not...

Amy Welborn links to this article by Sandro Magister about who wields power in the Vatican. Personally, I'd be inclined to take these articles and all such speculation withe a grain of salt. This is particularly true if one tries to use this speculation to see inside the next conclave.
That being said, it's an interesting read. Without a doubt the Pope's declining physical health (he has sounded much weaker in recent weeks) is a cause for concern and does make Archbishop Dziwisz's role increasingly important. However, I find the notion that he might have made Dziwisz Cardinal in pectore an almost laughable suggestion. Indeed, the fact that Magister would repeat such an incredible rumour casts a shadow of doubt over the rest of the article.
Also well off the mark is the old chestnut that is put about regarding Ratzinger and Dominus Iesus. No sensible commentator could buy into the old caricature of Ratzinger being several degrees to the right of the Pope. It was no surprise that the Pope backed Dominus Iesus. (Incidentally, when Dominus Iesus came out initially the commentary which impressed me most was the welcome given by some Protestant clergy who, despite not being able to accept the ecclesiology, saw that the main point of the document was the Christological focus and they welcomed the document's strong defence of the uniqueness of Christ's salvific role.) It is also disingenuous to hint that the CDF's power has increased. Granted, Ratzinger's letters to bishops are a relative innovation, but would theologians really consider Ratzinger's hand any heavier than the pre-conciliar Holy Office?
More interesting is Magister's reportage of Sodano's October 2nd homily. Both Re and Sepe had been tipped some months ago to replace Sodano in the Secretariate of State this Autumn. That hasn't happened yet and perhaps it mightn't happen in the near future. Magister is correct to notice Julián Herranz Casado, certainly a man on the rise.
As I've said before, it's not safe to take this kind of speculation too far - a conclave has a dynamic all of its own and when a Pope dies the power of his staff dies with him. The exercise of power is not always the best way to make lasting friends and it's is not hard to imagine that the Holy Spirit might have a word or two to say about who the next Pope will be.

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