EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

World/National News

March 11, 2013

Before the conclave, dickering has begun

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican insists that the cardinals participating in the upcoming conclave will vote their conscience, each influenced only by silent prayers and reflection. Everybody knows, however, that power plays, vested interests and Machiavellian maneuvering are all part of the game, and that the horse-trading is already under way.

This time there are no star cardinals and no big favorites, making the election wide open and allowing the possibility of a compromise candidate should there be deadlock.

While deliberations have been secret, there appear to be two big camps forming that have been at loggerheads in the run-up to the conclave.

One, dominated by the powerful Vatican bureaucracy called the Curia, is believed to be seeking a pope who will let it continue calling the shots as usual. The speculation is that the Curia is pushing the candidacy of Brazilian Odilo Scherer, who has close ties to the Curia and would be expected to name an Italian insider as Secretary of State — the Vatican No. 2 who runs day-to-day affairs at the Holy See.

Another camp, apparently spearheaded by American cardinals, is said to be pushing for a reform-minded pope with the strength to shake up the Curia, tarnished by infighting and the “Vatileaks” scandal in which retired Pope Benedict XVI’s own butler leaked confidential documents to a journalist. These cardinals reportedly want Milan archbishop Angelo Scola as pope, as he is seen as having the clout to bring the Curia into line.

The other key question to resolve is whether the pope should be a “pastoral” one — somebody with the charisma and communication skills to attract new members to a dwindling flock — or a “managerial” one capable of a church overhaul in a time of sex-abuse scandals and bureaucratic disarray.

It’s hard to find any single candidate who fits the bill on both counts.

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