By Fraser Nelson
The Pope’s surprise resignation will put the world’s attention on Nigeria’s Cardinal Francis Arinze. Not so long ago, the candidates would all be Italians. Now, the odds on a Pope from the developing nations are quite srtong.
There is an old saying in the Vatican: young cardinals vote for old popes. This bodes will for the 80-year-old Cardinal Arinze, an Igbo Nigerian who spent 25 years in the Vatican. He was, once, the world’s youngest bishop. He is quite conservative, as the last two Popes were, and was regarded as a candidate in the 2005 conclave. The liberal Cardinals will like the idea of a Pope from the developing world.
The new rules mean a new Pope needs the votes of two-thirds of the Cardinals, so one faction cannot impose its will over another. Since no one expected Benedict’s resignation, it could well be that the Cardinals are not ready to come up with a long-term solution. Older popes are, historically, a form of compromise. Arinze himself can’t vote, having turned 80. There are only ten African electors left.
However, it should be noted that Arinze retired a few years ago, hardly demonstrating an appetite for the far-greater demands of the papacy.Continue reading