April 05, 2005

Analysis: Conclave a question of numbers

Washington Times

By Roland Flamini
Chief International Correspondent

Washington, DC, Apr. 5 (UPI) -- The pope is the sole leader of the Roman Catholic Church and at the same time the absolute ruler of Europe's smallest independent state. There is no permanent representational body governing the church, and no parliament in Vatican City. Yet the pope is elected through a democratic process that would be familiar to any U.S. politician.

Andrew Greeley, the Catholic priest and best-selling author, calls it "the political event par excellence" and compares it to "American conventions of the old days." ...

For the first time in many years the United States cardinals enter the conclave with diminished prestige as "king makers." In 1979 Cardinal John Krol of Philadelphia was reportedly a leading campaigner for Cardinal Wojtyla. In other circumstances a powerful American point man in the coming conclave would have been Cardinal Bernard Law. He was influential both among U.S. cardinals but also in Latin America and in the Vatican. But that was before Law was forced to resign as archbishop of Boston in 2002 because of the sexual abuse crisis, and now holds a largely ceremonial post in the Vatican.

The pedophilia scandal, coupled with the U.S. hierarchy's support for the Iraq war, and later what many saw as the American bishops' interference in the 2004 presidential elections with their pronouncement on divorcees and Holy Communion, drew public criticism from other leading Catholic prelates, particularly in South America.

Posted by kshaw at April 5, 2005 07:51 PM