Papabili: Those Who Believe In It and Those Who Believe In Themselves (1)

Source: FSSPX News

Exterior of the Sistine Chapel

In an article published on April 27, 2024 on the British site UnHerd, Damian Thompson returns at length to the subject which currently occupies many conversations between the cardinals: “Who are the serious papabili for the next conclave?” Because, as the deputy editor-in-chief of The Spectator writes, according to several observers, “Pope Francis – who is often too short of breath to read out his own sermons – hasn’t got long to go.”

The journalist admits at the end of his article, “We really don’t have a clue who that [the next pope] will be. So much depends how moderate, non-aligned cardinals vote. They are revealing nothing, especially now that the Vatican and probably diocesan curia are stuffed with hidden microphones.”

After detailing the scandals rocking the end of the current pontificate, Damian Thompson points out that Fiducia Supplicans, which authorizes the blessing of same-sex couples, will not be without impact on the election of a new pope: “However hideous the scandals associated with this pontificate, it’s unlikely that they will influence the next conclave as much as the document signed by Francis on 18 December last year.”

Fiducia Supplicans changed the dynamics of the electoral college – not just because it forced Catholic bishops to address the radioactive topic of homosexuality that has torn apart the Protestant churches, but also because it summed up the catastrophic incompetence of this pontificate.”

Then, the journalist makes a numerical estimate: “At least three quarters of the future cardinal-electors will have been appointed by Francis. So you might think that the conclave, while recognizing Fiducia as a blunder, will be looking for a pope who supports Francis's relatively undogmatic approach to issues of human sexuality. And so it might – if he’s created enough liberal cardinals. But he hasn’t.”

Here Damian Thompson joins the analysis of The Wanderer. He writes that the college of cardinals is far from being homogeneous, in other words “Bergoglian”: “Francis adopted a policy of appointing cardinals from the ‘peripheries’: Mongolia’s 1,450 Catholics have one; Australia’s five million Catholics don’t.”

“Tonga has one, Ireland doesn’t. But, by doing so, he [Francis] had to abandon his game of boosting liberals and twisting the tail of his conservative critics. These factional labels don't mean much in the developing world. In the last two consistories he has created 33 cardinals, only a handful of whom hold Western-style radical views of sexuality.”

“To quote one Vatican analyst: 'Francis has wasted his chance to firmly stack the deck for the next conclave.' And now the college is full; even if he lives to call another consistory, he won’t have many places to play with.”

According to the same analyst, “when Fiducia supplicans was published, the African cardinals ditched their Francis-worship overnight. The vast majority won’t vote for anyone who has backed Fiducia.” Damian Thompson mathematically deduces: “There are currently 17 African cardinal-electors; nearly all of them are in the anti-gay bloc.”

“To these we can add at least 10 cardinals from Asia, Latin America, and the West who share their views, even if they use milder rhetoric. Under current rules, a pope must be elected by a two-thirds majority of the cardinal-electors. This means that social conservatives, if they join forces with the significant number of moderates alarmed by Fiducia, can block anyone considered progressive on homosexuality.”

The possibility of this anti-homosexual minority block is bad news for progressive prelates. Damian Thompson thinks here of Cardinal Luis Tagle, “the ambitious former Archbishop of Manila. He was once dubbed the ‘Asian Francis’ on account of his showmanship and socially liberal views.”

“In 2019, Francis put him in charge of worldwide evangelization – a huge prize that was snatched away when the pope restructured his department and sacked him as head of Caritas, the Catholic aid agency dogged by sex abuse scandals.” The British journalist continues: “It’s also tricky Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, the affable bicycling beanpole who’s Archbishop of Bologna.”

“His stance on homosexuality is cautious -- but he allowed a gay couple to have a church blessing in his diocese and then, disastrously, had his spokesman basically lie about it, claiming it wasn’t a same-sex blessing when it obviously was. Zuppi isn’t a fan of Fiducia Supplicans, but at the moment he’s run up against the blocking third.”

What about the closely observant Bergoglian cardinals? According to Damian Thompson, “Hard-core liberals stand even lass of a chance. Blase Cupich of Chicago isn’t papabile, nor are the ‘McCarrick boys’ [Theodore McCarrick, former archbishop of Washington, dismissed from the clerical state in 2019 for his abuse of minors]: Tobin, McElroy, Gregory, and Farrell, or the veteran European Leftists Hollerich, Marx, and Czerny.”

“The name of Maltese Cardinal Mario Grech has been mentioned because he’s secretary general of the ‘synod on synodality,’ a consultative body of bishops and lay activists that the pope notably didn’t bother to consult about the new gay blessings. Grech, unkindly nicknamed ‘the Bozo of Gozo’ [secondary island of the Maltese archipelago], has seen his reputation collapse along with that of the toothless synod. His enemies describe him as the biggest toady in the Curia.”