I’m having a look right now at two books which speculate about the next Pope. One is by George Weigel. HERE I’ll get to him.
First, there is an offering by the best working vaticanista today, Edward Pentin.
This is a good summary of the accomplishments and positions of really interesting men who will choose (or be chosen to be) the next Pope. The next conclave, like the next presidential/senatorial election in these USA, are going to be definitive turning points. “You can’t know the players without a program”, so the saying goes.
The Next Pope: The Leading Cardinal Candidates
It is not yet released. I have a review copy. Right now, as of this writing, you can pre-order a paperback for a reduced price of $24.95 (£23.77) and a KINDLE e-book for $9.99, which will be delivered automatically on the day of release.
Get a Kindle! Soooo useful, especially for portability, internal searching, and for avoiding the dust build up on more ephemeral reading. HERE
The other day there was an online book presentation (with a couple of video glitches) from Rome involving Pentin, Roberto de Mattei, and the formerly ubiquitous John L. Allen, late of the Fishwrap and now of Crux. Also joining via video was Ross Douthat of Hell’s Bible. Ross contributed an interesting point. When the panelists got onto the idea that the Holy Spirit chooses the Pope, they brought out Ratzinger’s thesis (to which I subscribe) that the Holy Spirit’s role is not so much to choose the next Vicar of Christ, but rather to ensure that the man the Cardinals choose is not a total disaster. Obviously there are some men that the Holy Spirit would not have choosen who were nevertheless elected. Ross opined that perhaps the Holy Spirit did, in fact, choose those really bad Popes precisely to chastise the Church.
In that panel discussion there was some speculation about who might succeed Francis.
Ed’s book has an introduction and then individual chapters on 19 different – quite different – cardinals, ranging on a spectrum from the admirable, but in reality probably not papabile (pronounced pa-PA-bee-lay and not pa-pa-BEE-lay… please, have mercy) Raymond Leo Card. Burke, or the impressive Robert Sarah, to Peter Erdo, to Christoph Schönborn, to the nightmare prospect of Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle and the risible Cardinals Turkson on the far left edge of the ecclesial solar system. There are a few old favorites, such as Scola and Ouellet. Parolin, now SecState is included.
An important point was mentioned in the panel and in the intro, and I have heard this same point made by cardinals with whom I have spoken. They don’t know each other. As Pentin observes, “information is always a central concern for cardinals entering a conclave”. Francis does not hold consistories, wherein they get to know each other. This is a horrific disservice to the universal Church and, in my opinion lacking in charity, if not in slyness. My view is, by atomizing the College of Cardinals, so that the men don’t know each other, a future conclave is more likely rapidly to break into factions around a few highly visible power-players who are in the know, such as the ongoing nightmare Tagle, once head of Caritas International, with hands on the purse strings, and now head of Propaganda Fidei, with hands on the purse strings. Outliers in the College, such as the guy from Tonga, is more than likely, out of ignorance of the other Cardinals, going to ally himself with someone on the inside. It seems to me that this is the conscious design of Francis: atomize the College, provide for key players who will coalesce the fragmented members, and marginalize a certain wing of the electors.
Pentin intends his book to be useful for the Cardinal Electors for the next conclave.
Ed also has informative sections in the introduction on the history of the cardinalate, as well as the qualities a Pope ought to possess. He leans on Benedict XIV, a favorite of mine, and St. Robert Bellarmine, ditto.
The individual chapters on the individual Cardinals are less like narrative biography than they are like encyclopedia articles, with a rapid summary in bullet points in each. I paid special attention whenever the Extraordinary Form was mentioned, as it was for Cardinals Bagnasco, Burke, Erdo, Napier (booo!), O’Malley (meh), Ouellet, Parolin (meh), Piacenza, Ravasi (booo!), Sarah, Schönborn, Scola, Zuppi.
The review copy I received indicates in the Table of Contents that there should be an index. My review copy did not have an index. That’s a fault. This is probably what is holding up ultimate publication and release. However, I have been looking at it in a PDF format, so I can do searches.
It was published by Sophia Press, which does excellent work.