6 Factors that Could Sway the Next Conclave

Over the last year I’ve read dozens of articles speculating on the outcome of next conclave. Some will handicap the potential candidates while others discourage it. My takeaway is that in the next conclave the cardinals will give certain factors more weight than others.

Curial Reform

This is surely the big one. In his recent review of a book on the conclave that elected Pope Francis, Conor Dugan points out the obvious:

…An anonymous cardinal stated that they needed to elect a pope “who knows how to reform the Curia and make it more credible and transparent.”

…What are we to make between the yawning gap between what the cardinals saw as the need to reform the Curia and the actual results of that reform seven years into this [Francis’] papacy?  …The scandals continue. The lack of transparency abounds. What basis did the cardinals have to believe that Cardinal Bergoglio had the experience and administrative skills to pull this feat off? (link).

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The Next Conclave: A Referendum on Reform?

Cardinal Parolin

Vatican journalist Sandro Magister recently reported that three names are being mentioned around the Vatican and beyond with respect to the next conclave: Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, and Cardinals Robert Sarah (Guinea) and Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle (Manila). However, he confidently rules out the latter two. Tagle is too young (60), and Sarah (77) is too conservative and could never get the necessary two-thirds support. He adds that as an African, Sarah’s candidacy would be only “symbolic”, leaving Parolin in “pole position”.

Marco Tossati  thinks Sarah stands a much better chance and senses a growing fear among progressives that Sarah’s “papabile” is increasing. The Pope’s public reproach of the Cardinal concerning his interpretation of Magnum Principium, according to the Vaticanist, reflected this fear. “…[T]he letter was celebrated as a just humiliation of the cardinal and accompanied by calls for his resignation.” While he admits that Parolin is in a strong position, he adds that Cardinal Sarah,

Cardinal Sarah

“….is known for his holiness of life and lack of interest in any form of power or coercion, even in the Church. Moreover, Africa is the continent where the Church is growing most dramatically, and where faith is often practiced to the point of martyrdom. Nothing could be more fitting than for the next pope to come from that continent. And so we come to the great irony of the campaign to discredit this quiet and long-suffering churchman. Cardinal Sarah is attacked precisely because he is seen as having the makings of a pope.”

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