It is an election, entwined with legends: Before the conclave in which the new pope is determined, the tension rises in the Vatican. An Italian cardinal is already a big favorite.
The adoption of silence for the cardinals gathered in Rome has slowed the flow of information from the pre-Conclave significantly. Yet more news leaked out and ignited the particular creativity of the Italian media. According to the findings of the newspaper "La Repubblica" the Milan Cardinal Angelo Scola (71) already has 40 votes behind him - a statement which is not justified in detail.
The renowned theologian would therefore take the pole position in the camp of moderate reform-minded cardinals. And he would therefore oppose the conservative forces of the Roman Curia, who want to leave the structures at the top of the Church essentially untouched.
More transparency and changes?
The extensive discussion in the General Congregations, and the long wait for the decision on a Conclave date suggest a high need for discussions among the Cardinals from the great dioceses of the world church. Apparently they have expressed their displeasure at the repeated breakdowns at the top of the Curia - from "Vatileaks" to the Williamson affair - which have not been put behind them by the Curia.
The relationship between the Vatican and local churches is the issue, the Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said regularly at his daily press briefing. The discussions are on a broad range of subjects- ecumenism, interreligious dialogue, social justice, bioethics, collegiality, but also the role of women in the church.
Demands for reform, Vatican experts see coming especially on the part of Western and Central Europe, but also from the U.S. bishops and many Latin Americans. Favorites from this camp include not only Scola but also the pastors of Boston and New York, Timothy Dolan (63) and Sean O'Malley (68) , as well as the Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn (68).
And German Cardinal Walter Kasper (80), whose advice as the oldest Papal elector has been especially sought, very significantly has called in past weeks for more transparency and changes at the top of the Vatican.
As a representative of the "Roman group", the Italian media cited especially the Italian-Argentine Cardinal Leonardo Sandri (69). Malcolm Ranjith (65) from Sri Lanka has been included within a team, which find their support from Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean (85) and his former colleagues Giovanni Battista Re (79) or Giovanni Lajolo.
As the front man of the Roman group, "La Repubblica" cited the Brazilian Cardinal Odilo Peter Scherer (63): If an outsider is chosen to head the church, the likely the number two of the church hierarchy, the Cardinal Secretary of State, would be with a high probability an Italian with Curia experience.For which Sandri could come into consideration - or maybe the previous substitute of the Secretariat of State, Archbishop Angelo Becciu Curia (64), or the former deputy Foreign Minister Archbishop Pietro Parolin (58), who is currently Nuncio to Venezuela.
It is questionable, however, whether Scherer, who is conservative on theological issues should actually be assigned to the Curial faction. Because also in the assertive Archbishop of Sao Paulo, who is a strong leader, observers see the interest in a renewal of the Curial structures.