Sunday, April 03, 2005

Two papal facts

Will these be significant facts or not?

The most recent Spanish pope: Alexander VI, 1492-1503. A Borgia, Spanish-Moorish ethnicity.

The most recent African pope: Gelasius I, 492-496. A Roman of African descent.

Who knows what the Cardinals are thinking, and what their level of fellowship is? What will the length of the Conclave portend? Will they return to the Italians? Choose another European? Choose a semi-European--a prominent, Argentinian cardinal is a man with an Italian name, and he has been on some of the short lists. We can't rule out an African (Cardinal Arinze is a leading candidate), or someone from South Asia's strong Catholic community.

The Cardinals--the larger group of 135 and the voting group of 117 have a couple of weeks to hold at least general conversations about the general direction of the Church Universal. They are smart fellows and will do so artfully and purposefully before the curtain of silence falls on their deliberations.

If it's a deadlock, look for an older European--perhaps Schoenborn or Lustiger. Otherwise, all bets are off in these times. Are there other Cardinals of "mixed" background? Who, among the Cardinals, do they regard as "the smartest man in the room"--and a man with heroic quality?

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