Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Hidden War

*BREAKING* Citing those beloved "Vatican sources," Phil Lawler's CWNews is reporting the appointment of the decade -- that tomorrow, Andre Armand Vingt-Trois, the 62 year-old archbishop of Tours, will be named to succeed Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger in Paris.

According to the report, Vingt-Trois was culled from the Paris seminary by the newly-appointed Archbishop Lustiger in 1981 to serve as vicar general of Paris, being named an auxiliary bishop of the same seven years later, at 45. The presumptive archbishop-elect is referred to as a "spritual son" of Lustiger, and that in itself carries weight, this pope feeling a particular solidarity of spirit with the outgoing Parisian prelate, a convert from Judaism who lost his mother at Auchwitz.

The timing of this is funny -- I was going over some notes last night, trying to cull out the cardinals and personalities in general who have most shaped this pontificate behind the scenes. For all the cardinals he's named, Wojtyla has only been personally close to a precious few, Lustiger among them -- and of those few, none got the successors of their choosing, that is until now....


Well, the Great Actor returned to the stage in triumph this morning -- John Paul leaving Gemelli as only he could, via Popemobile, a day earlier than some close to the situation predicted his homecoming.

He's got a bit of a mess to sort out back at the apartment.

At the Ash Wednesday services yesterday, the cardinals were more abuzz than usual, and they're split down the middle. Sodano really did start what one termed an "unholy row" with his Monday comments, and now everyone's leaping into the fray.
  • Marc Ouellet, former secretary of Christian Unity (before the Legionaries hijacked the Holy See's ecumenical efforts), now cardinal-archbishop of Quebec and primate of Canada, offered that Wojtyla "deserves to die as pope."
  • G.B. Re' (again, don't bother asking "who?") -- here speaking for himself and Justin Rigali -- is said in several reports to have "lashed out," calling the opening of the resignation question "bad taste."
  • In the loggie, they're tearing each other to bits. The more loyal (or ambitious, depending on how one sees things) are furious that Sodano let the question hang, as opposed to simply shutting it down at the outset. And then there's the tizzy that was had at St. Peter's, when all the press photogs at Ash Wednesday wanted to know which among the red hats was Eduardo Martinez Somalo -- he being camerlengo, the one who administers the church during a vacancy in the see of Rome.

There is a valid question here, Sodano being 79, of how much of this fierce loyalty is true devotion. The appointment of a new secretary of state has been raised at times in recent years, and Re' -- himself a former Sostituto (and a Benelliesque highly effective one at that) -- is always cited as a front-runner, alongside Sepe (former Assessore, the #3 job at SegStat)... and, really, no others.

So how much of this is positioning for the pope's favor, now that he -- and, just as importantly, Dziwisz -- is not so happy with his deputy's recent behavior is an open question. Just keep an eye there.... and more later.


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