Intrigues surround appointment of new pope after scandals hit Vatican

Pope Benedict XVI to hold last mass on ASH Wednesday
Pope Benedict XVI stepped down yesterday

A new Pope will be appointed in March.

Pope Benedict XVI, during his last mass as pope, on Sunday, revealed that he decided to forgo the his golden Papal Ring because God called him to devote himself to a quiet life of prayer and reflection.

He told over 100,000 faithfuls at St Peter’s Square, Vatican City that he would “continue to serve it (the Church) with the same dedication and the same love which I have tried to do so until now, but in a way more suitable to my age and to my strength.”

Cheering as this news may be to the over 1 billion Catholics worldwide, who are witnessing this historic event, this is not the news.

The news to look forward to in the coming weeks is who will be replacing Joseph Ratzinger as the next pope. Just like it is in governmental politics the intrigue is thickening. There is serious politicking going on in the Vatican; and as the day of electing the new pope gets closer, it is beginning to shred all forms of decency.

A scandalised resignation

First, after weeks of speculations spoken in hush tones that pontiff’s resignation may have been caused by internal church scandals and not the pope’s failing health caused by old age, Italian newspaper, La Repubblica decided it wasn’t going to listen to rumours and gossips spoken in hush tones again. Last week, the newspaper published a secret from three cardinals that uncovered an underground network of senior clergy who have organised gay homosexual parties; while some cardinals are blackmailed due to their involvement with the scandal. The Italian media said the pope resigned because he didn’t want to handle the repercussion that will emanate from the report.

But the Christian behemoth is not one to take an uppercut without throwing a left hook. Vatican apologists are quick to dismiss the report as a “’false and damaging rumour.” But it strangely admitted that the report is an attempt to influence who is elected as the next pope.

While many were still trying to make a head of the revelation, in the United Kingdom, four priests accused that country’s most senior Catholic, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, of “inappropriate behaviour” involving men! This accusation is significant in many respects. First, these are not some teenage altar boys accusing a priest of fondling their backside during confession (the church gets enough of this kind accusation, that it has a set aside budgets for hushing parents up), no. These are four bona fide priests (one of them is retired) accusing the head of the Catholic Church in the U.K. of homosexuality. This is also significant as Mr. O’Brien, over the years has garnered a reputation of an outspoken anti-gay clergy. He once described homosexual marriage as “harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of those involved.”

The most significant implication of the accusation is that Mr. O’Brien is a voting member of the conclave of cardinal on whose religious shoulders lay the surplices of electing the next pope. Earlier today, Mr. O’Brien buckled to the calls that he should hands off the election. He has announced that he has rested his rights to vote as a member of the conclave. The cardinal’s decision to skip the conclave is unprecedented as no cardinal in history has stayed out of conclave because of personal scandal.

The way the Vatican wheel of intrigues is spinning, one won’t be surprised if it throws up another mess in the public sphere before Thursday when Benedict officially retires to life of continuous discussion with God.

The voters

Below is the list of the 177 cardinals that will be voting to elect the next pope:

Giovanni Battista Re, Cardinal-Bishop of Sabina-Poggio Mirteto; Age: 79.1

Tarcisio Pietro Evasio Bertone, S.D.B., Cardinal-Bishop of Frascati; Age: 78.3

Antonios Naguib, Patriarch Emeritus of Alexandria {Alessandria} (Coptic), Egypt; Age: 78.0

Béchara Boutros Raï, O.M.M., Patriarch of Antiochia {Antioch} (Maronite), Lebanon; Age: 73.1

Godfried Danneels, Archbishop Emeritus of Mechelen-Brussel {Malines-Brussels}, Belgium; Age: 79.8

Joachim Meisner, Archbishop of Köln {Cologne}, Germany; Age: 79.2

Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez, Archbishop of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Age: 76.4

Roger Michael Mahony, Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles, California, USA; Age: 77.1

Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino, Archbishop of San Cristobal de la Habana, Cuba; Age: 76.4

Jean-Claude Turcotte, Archbishop Emeritus of Montréal, Québec, Canada; Age: 76.7

Vinko Puljic, Archbishop of Vrhbosna {Sarajevo}, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Age: 67.5

Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, Archbishop Emeritus of Guadalajara, Jalisco, México; Age: 80.0

Antonio María Rouco Varela, Archbishop of Madrid, Spain; Age: 76.6

Dionigi Tettamanzi, Archbishop Emeritus of Milano {Milan}, Italy; Age: 79.0

Polycarp Pengo, Archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania; Age: 68.6

Christoph Schönborn, O.P., Archbishop of Wien {Vienna}, Austria; Age: 68.2

Norberto Rivera Carrera, Archbishop of México, Federal District; Age: 70.8

Francis Eugene George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago, Illinois, USA; Age: 76.2

Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education (for Seminaries and Institutes of Study); Age: 73.4

Crescenzio Sepe, Archbishop of Napoli {Naples}, Italy; Age: 69.8

Walter Kasper, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Age: 80.0

Ivan Dias, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples; Age: 76.9

Geraldo Majella Agnelo, Archbishop Emeritus of São Salvador da Bahia, Brazil; Age: 79.4

Audrys Juozas Bačkis, Archbishop of Vilnius, Lithuania; Age: 76.1

Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, Archbishop Emeritus of Santiago de Chile; Age: 79.5

Julio Terrazas Sandoval, C.SS.R., Archbishop of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia; Age: 77.0

Wilfrid Fox Napier, O.F.M., Archbishop of Durban, South Africa; Age: 72.0

Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, S.D.B., Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Age: 70.2

Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, Archbishop of Lima, Peru; Age: 69.2

Cláudio Hummes, O.F.M., Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy; Age: 78.6

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina; Age: 76.2

José da Cruz Policarpo, Patriarch of Lisboa {Lisbon}, Portugal; Age: 77.1

Severino Poletto, Archbishop Emeritus of Torino {Turin}, Italy; Age: 80.0

Karl Lehmann, Bishop of Mainz, Germany; Age: 76.8

Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milano {Milan}, Italy; Age: 71.4

Anthony Olubunmi Okogie, Archbishop Emeritus of Lagos, Nigeria; Age: 76.8

Gabriel Zubeir Wako, Archbishop of Khartoum, Sudan; Age: 72.1

Carlos Amigo Vallejo, O.F.M., Archbishop Emeritus of Sevilla {Seville}, Spain; Age: 78.6

Justin Francis Rigali, Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Age: 77.9

Ennio Antonelli, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for the Family; Age: 76.3

Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; Age: 64.4

Telesphore Placidus Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi, India; Age: 73.4

George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, Australia; Age: 71.8

Josip Bozanić, Archbishop of Zagreb, Croatia; Age: 64.0

Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Mân, Archbishop of Thành-Phô Hô Chí Minh (Hôchiminh Ville), Viêt Nam; Age: 79.0

Philippe Xavier Ignace Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, France; Age: 62.4

Péter Erdõ, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary; Age: 60.7

Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; Age: 68.8

Agostino Vallini, Vicar General of Roma {Rome}, Italy; Age: 72.9

Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino, Archbishop of Caracas, Santiago de Venezuela; Age: 70.6

Jean-Pierre Bernard Ricard, Archbishop of Bordeaux (-Bazas), France; Age: 68.5

Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; Age: 67.4

Sean Patrick O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Age: 68.7

Stanisław Dziwisz, Archbishop of Kraków {Cracow}, Poland; Age: 73.9

Carlo Caffarra, Archbishop of Bologna, Italy; Age: 74.8

Seán Baptist Brady, Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland; Age: 73.6

Lluís Martínez Sistach, Archbishop of Barcelona, Spain; Age: 75.9

André Armand Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris, France; Age: 70.4

Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genova {Genoa}, Italy; Age: 70.2

Théodore-Adrien Sarr, Archbishop of Dakar, Senegal; Age: 76.3

Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, India; Age: 68.2

José Francisco Robles Ortega, Archbishop of Guadalajara, Jalisco, México; Age: 64.0

Daniel Nicholas DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, Texas, USA; Age: 63.8

Odilo Pedro Scherer, Archbishop of São Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil; Age: 63.5

John Njue, Archbishop of Nairobi, Kenya; Age: 69.2

Raúl Eduardo Vela Chiriboga, Archbishop Emeritus of Quito, Ecuador; Age: 79.2

Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Archbishop of Kinshasa, Congo (Dem. Rep.); Age: 73.4

Paolo Romeo, Archbishop of Palermo, Italy; Age: 75.1

Donald William Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Age: 72.3

Raymundo Damasceno Assis, Archbishop of Aparecida, Sao Paulo, Brazil; Age: 76.1

Kazimierz Nycz, Archbishop of Warszawa {Warsaw}, Poland; Age: 63.1

Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don, Archbishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka; Age: 65.3

Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of München und Freising {Munich}, Germany; Age: 59.5

George Alencherry, Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly (Syro-Malabarese), India; Age: 67.9

Thomas Christopher Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Age: 66.2

Dominik Jaroslav Duka, O.P., Archbishop of Praha {Prague}, Czech Republic; Age: 69.9

Willem Jacobus Eijk, Archbishop of Utrecht, Netherlands; Age: 59.7

Giuseppe Betori, Archbishop of Firenze {Florence}, Italy; Age: 66.1

Timothy Michael Dolan, Archbishop of New York, New York, USA; Age: 63.1

Rainer Maria Woelki, Archbishop of Berlin, Germany; Age: 56.6

John Tong Hon, Bishop of Hong Kong [Xianggang], China; Age: 73.6

Baselios Cleemis (Isaac) Thottunkal, Major Archbishop of Trivandrum (Syro-Malankarese), India; Age: 53.8

John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria; Age: 69.1

Rubén Salazar Gómez, Archbishop of Bogotá, Colombia; Age: 70.5

Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, Philippines; Age: 55.7

Jean-Louis Pierre Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; Age: 69.9

Attilio Nicora, President Emeritus of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See; Age: 76.0

William Joseph Levada, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Age: 76.8

Franc Rodé, C.M., Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; Age: 78.5

Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches; Age: 69.3

Giovanni Lajolo, President Emeritus of the Governatorate of Vatican City State; Age: 78.2

Paul Josef Cordes, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”; Age: 78.5

Angelo Comastri, President of the Fabric of St. Peter; Age: 69.5

Stanisław Ryłko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity; Age: 67.7

Raffaele Farina, S.D.B., Archivist Emeritus of the Vatican Secret Archives; Age: 79.5

Angelo Amato, S.D.B., Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints; Age: 74.8

Robert Sarah, President of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”; Age: 67.8

Francesco Monterisi, Archpriest Emeritus of the Basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura {Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls Basilica}; Age: 78.8

Raymond Leo Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura; Age: 64.7

Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Age: 63.0

Paolo Sardi, Vice-Chamberlain Emeritus of the Apostolic Chamber; Age: 78.5

Mauro Piacenza, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy; Age: 68.5

Velasio De Paolis, C.S., President Emeritus of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See; Age: 77.5

Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture; Age: 70.4

Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples; Age: 66.9

Manuel Monteiro de Castro, Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary; Age: 75.0

Santos Abril y Castelló, Archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore {Saint Mary Major Basilica}; Age: 77.5

Antonio Maria Vegliò, President of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People; Age: 75.1

Giuseppe Bertello, President of the Governatorate of Vatican City State; Age: 70.5

Francesco Coccopalmerio, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts; Age: 75.0

João Bráz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; Age: 65.9

Edwin Frederick O’Brien, Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem; Age: 73.9

Domenico Calcagno, President of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See; Age: 70.1

Giuseppe Versaldi, President of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See; Age: 69.6

James Michael Harvey, Archpriest of the Basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura {Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls Basilica}; Age: 63.4

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