Non-European Pope Could Pair up with Vatican Official 'In Presidential-Style Ticket'

By Tom Kington
March 4, 2013

Odilo Scherer, the archbishop of Sao Paulo, is 'supported by two key Vatican officials'

Cardinals gathering Rome are reportedly considering electing the first ever non-European pope, who could pair up with a Vatican official as his secretary of a state, in a scenario likened to a presidential ticket.

The idea would satisfy calls from non-Euoprean cardinals to give the papacy a global appeal, while convincing Vatican insiders that an experience hand would manage the Curia.

At 9.30am on Monday, most of the cardinal electors will assemble at the Vatican for the first day of consultations ahead of voting for Pope Benedict XVI's successor in a conclave now expected to start around March 11.

Marco Tosatti, a Vatican expert, said that Brazil's Odilo Scherer, 63, the archbishop of Sao Paulo, was now being supported by two key Vatican officials, former secretary of state Tarcisio Bertone, who is taking on the role of Chamberlain during the conclave, and Angelo Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals, who is overseeing the pre-conclave meetings.

"Scherer is a great preacher, has a beautiful baritone voice, speaks Italian and worked in Rome at the congregation of bishops for eight years," said Mr Tosatti.

Although conclave rules would forbid the next pope agreeing in advance to a candidate to work at his side, Mr Tosatti said that Argentine Leonardo Sandri, who has years of experience inside the Vatican and "could be suggested by Sodano as a secretary of state."

In an interview with Reuters, Cardinal Sandri, 69, said the next pope should not be chosen according to geography but must be a "saintly man" qualified to lead the Church in a time of crisis.

"I am sceptical about relying on geographical definitions. Someone should not be elected pope just because he is not a European," the cardinal said. "We have to choose the best person, the one who has all the personal qualities of health, vigour, preparation and experience, without regard to geographical origin."

Marco Politi, author of 'Joseph Ratzinger: Crisis of a Papacy', said tickets, the likes of which are seen in US presidential elections, were "officially" forbidden.

"But there have been a few cases where the backers of a candidate for pope suggest which secretary of state he is going to accept," he said.

Mr Tosatti said other non-European favourites emerging were Canada's Marc Ouellet and Sean O'Malley, the archbishop of Boston, who won favour by selling church property to pay victims of priestly abuse.

Cardinal Angelo Scola, the Italian archbishop of Milan, who was an early favourite, was now losing ground, said Mr Tosatti.

As the conclave nears, an Italian association of Catholic TV viewers has demanded that Italian TV channel La7 drop plans to air the series The Borgias, starring Jeremy Irons, which documents 16th century Vatican corruption and gives "a distorted idea of the papacy," the association argued.


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