Lunedì, 24 Settembre 2018
VATICAN CITY

Two front-runners emerge as pope candidates

English
© ANSA

Vatican City, March 11 - With 48 hours before the
cardinals enter the Sistine Chapel, the start of the conclave
looks increasingly like a run-off between two candidates.
Cardinal of Milan, Angelo Scola, and the Cardinal of San
Paolo, Odilo Pedro Scherer are the two vying contenders
reportedly starting off with a substantial "packet of votes".
However, nearly half of the 115 voting cardinals are still
undecided and have not expressed a preference, say reports.
For this reason, the game for the election of Benedict
XVI's successor has yet to take shape.
Many say this, especially cardinals who in private
conversations have spoken of a situation of "great uncertainty"
in recent hours, and have expressed more than one worry about
division in the heart of the College of Cardinals, and about a
stalemate that could elude any name that coalesces the necessary
consensus.
Scola, age 71, having guided Venice and Milan - two
dioceses from which five popes have emerged in the last century
- is the strongest among Italian contenders, although his
support comes mostly from a heterogeneous international group
(Nothern Europeans, North and South Americans, and a few
Italians) with a goal of electing a pope who can reform the
Roman Curia, which is currently undergoing a number of actions
on the part of the pre-conclave general congregations.
Scherer, age 63, head of the most populous diocese in the
world, is the candidate for those who are more closely tied to
current Roman Curia and hopes for greater continuity.
His strong card is supporter Giovanni Battista Re, the
bishops' ex-prefect with whom Scherer worked for years in Rome.
Scherer is also tied to the Roman Curia by his seat on the
supervisory board of the Vatican Bank (IOR).
Uncertainty as how things will play out, and how open the
possible outcome is, is underlined by the fact that votes
backing Scola number less than 40, and votes backing Scherer
barely reach 30, far from the quorum of 77 necessary for
election, or two-thirds of the 115-member electorate.
One will see at the first ballot on Tuesday afternoon, if
one of the two has catalyzed the 45 or so votes necessary for
moving forward.
If such a prospect does not materialize, more than one
candidate could pick up the baton in the name of his
consolidated pastoral experience - like the French Canadian Marc
Ouellet, the Hungarian Peter Erdo, or even the Americans Timothy
Dolan or Sean O'Malley.
In the background, there are true outsider figures, like
the young Philippine Luis Antonio Tagle or the Mexican Francisco
Robles Ortega.
An altogether different matter is the possible "ticket"
matching 'papabile', or a papal contenders, like Scola and
Scherer, with names that would flank them as foreign secretary -
the post that wields the levers of Vatican power.
For this post, names circulating for days include the
Argentinian Leonardo Sandri and the Italian Mauro Piacenza.
Negotiations, in any case, are completely open.
The cardinals have dedicated Sunday - apart from masses in
the Roman churches they lead - to confidential talks and
meetings that will continue Monday, the eve of the conclave.
For many, the need expressed in the general congregation is
to find a figure able to turn the Roman Curia around, to carry
out much desired reform with collegiality, an inheritance never
implemented by the Council.
Widespread among the cardinals are fatigue, unease, and
suffering from scandals that have marked that recent years -
like Vatileaks, the dossier of which was drawn up by three
detective-cardinals, Julian Herranz, Jozef Tomko and Salvatore
De Giorgi, and which hangs, a true sword of Damocles, over this
conclave.
Can a name capable of truly cleaning house emerge from
these conditions - a task before which Ratzinger himself
surrendered? At this point, one will only know after the white
smoke rises above the Vatican.
Photo: Cardinal of Milan, Angelo Scola

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