[Paleopsych] NYT: Italians Feel They Need the Next Papacy forThemselves

Nicholas Bannan n.j.c.bannan at reading.ac.uk
Tue Apr 19 09:41:59 UTC 2005

If the knowledge of being Pope is carried in DNA, how is it passed on, given
the celibate nature of the office?


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Subject: [Paleopsych] NYT: Italians Feel They Need the Next Papacy

> Italians Feel They Need the Next Papacy for Themselves
> [Does Mugabe have any brother?]
>     VATICAN CITY, April 15 - For 455 years, the papacy passed
>     uninterrupted from one Italian to another until the election of the
>     Polish pope, John Paul II. Now, after 26 years, many Italians think it
>     is time to get back in office - for fear that changes in the Roman
>     Catholic Church may close the door on them for good.
>     As 115 cardinals from 52 countries prepare to enter a conclave on
>     Monday to select the next pope, some Vatican historians believe that
>     the election of another foreigner will conclude a historic shift of
>     power away from Italy. According to this school of thought, the papacy
>     needs to mirror Catholicism's growth in the Southern Hemisphere, where
>     the ranks are increasing in Africa and Latin America while shrinking
>     in Europe.
>     Few church experts think that another loss for the Italians will knock
>     them out as papal contenders for good, but it seems sure once and for
>     all to shatter the idea, reinforced by so many centuries of dominance,
>     that Italians are preternaturally the best men for the job.
>     Some here think that would be a mistake.
>     "There is a vocation, an Italian charisma," said Vittorio Messori, an
>     Italian writer who collaborated on John Paul's 1994 book "Crossing the
>     Threshold of Hope." "The Italians have a tradition of centuries behind
>     them, they know how to do the job of pope, it's in their DNA."
>     Well, until now, anyway. "Another non-Italian pope would confirm
>     Italy's decline," said Giovanni Maria Vian, a Vatican scholar at La
>     Sapienza University of Rome. "It would mean Italy has lost its central
>     role in papal succession."
>     There are signs that Italy is resisting such a trend, seeking to
>     reclaim its traditional hold and add to the 212 popes it has had in
>     the church's history.
>     The 20 Italians who will enter next week's conclave still constitute
>     the largest bloc of cardinals for any single nation, and a handful
>     have emerged as frontrunners among those being considered for the
>     papacy. In recent years, as the pope's health waned, a number of them
>     maintained a high level of visibility and weighed in on major issues
>     and challenges facing the church.
>     Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, 71, the archbishop of Milan, released his
>     major work on bio-ethics as an e-book. Cardinal Angelo Scola, 63, the
>     archbishop of Venice, started a magazine last month promoting dialogue
>     with Muslims, and Cardinal Camillo Ruini, 74, the vicar of Rome,
>     published a book criticizing secularism.
>     There also seems to be a more subtle campaign, on the part of Italians
>     as a whole, to recast John Paul as one of their own.
>     Cardinal Ruini presided over a memorial Mass for the pope last week,
>     delivering an uncharacteristically charismatic performance in which he
>     noted that John Paul had entered "so deeply into the hearts of Romans,
>     but also Italians."
>     Italy's capital, too, has staked its claim, plastering the streets
>     with posters announcing, "Rome mourns its pope." The College of
>     Cardinals also decided that the pope's final resting place should be
>     in St. Peter's crypt, instead of his native Poland.
>     Regardless of how much Rome may claim John Paul as its own, the fact
>     remains that he was a pope with global appeal, and his enormous
>     personality and long reign left an indelible stamp on the papacy.
>     "Wojtyla became the church himself, people identified him with it,"
>     said Pietro Scoppola, an Italian Vatican expert, using John Paul's
>     name before he became pope. "An Italian could step back and let the
>     church step forward."
>     Indeed, some Vatican analysts argue that a shift back to an Italian
>     pope may be necessary to properly govern the Curia, or church
>     government, because few have as intimate a knowledge of the inner
>     workings of the Vatican bureaucracy, which manages the daily
>     operations of the church and which John Paul largely ignored.
>     But an Italian cardinal, Fiorenzo Angelini, who is 88 and too old to
>     vote in the conclave, seemed to disagree in an interview this week
>     with Corriere della Sera of Milan.
>     "Our perception of the church has broadened, to the point of reaching
>     really global dimensions," he said. "You can't reason any more with a
>     national mentality, and not even a Continental one."
>     The largest growth of Roman Catholics in 2003, the last year Vatican
>     statistics are available, was in Africa, followed by Asia and South
>     America. Only in Europe did the number of Catholics fail to rise.
>     "The center of the church, from a sociological point of view, is not
>     in Italy," said Giancarlo Zizola, author of "Conclave: History and
>     Secrets," a study of how popes have been selected. "The world has
>     changed, and it is normal that the church change too. There is good
>     chance now of the first non-European pope in a very long time, and
>     that would be significant."
>     Greek and Syrian popes reigned at the early stages of the nearly
>     2,000-year history of the church, and the French all but moved the
>     Vatican to Avignon in the 1400's.
>     Since Adrian VI, a pope from Holland, died in 1523, the Italians have
>     held a tight grip on papal power, through the rise and fall of the
>     Papal States and two world wars. But in 1978, the year of John Paul's
>     election, that all changed.
>     Wherever the pope is from, one thing is certain, and it is something
>     that Pope John Paul instantly grasped during that first papal address
>     from the balcony of St. Peter's so many years ago, when he spoke to
>     the Roman crowd in what he called "our Italian language."
>     "Those who don't speak Italian are out," said Mr. Messori, the writer.
>     "It's like wanting to be the secretary general of U.N. and not
>     speaking English."
> References
>     1.
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