5000 journalists in Rome and no actual news

In the absence of actual news, the 5,000 journalists gathered in Rome for the election of a successor to Pope Benedict XVI are awash in conspiracy theories. Some may have substance, but probably only by coincidence.

An example is the question of why three of the four cardinal-electors with archdioceses in Germany were among the dozen who hadn’t arrived in Rome Monday for the first day of general meetings to prepare for the conclave. They had had two weeks’ notice and, unlike latecomers from places such as Vietnam, face no travel challenges.

Could it be that they were trying to postpone the opening of the conclave? Did they fear that Italian cardinals who work in the Vatican would try to rush the international cardinals into voting before they could identify a worthy candidate from outside the Vatican?

German Cardinal Walter Kasper, who is 80 but voting because his birthday fell after Pope Benedict stepped down on Thursday, could be construed as hinting at this in remarks to the Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper.

“We need time to get to know one another,” he said. “A papal election is not something you should rush.”

Cardinal Kasper is president emeritus of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, where he was known as an ally of diocesan bishops who felt they weren’t getting a fair hearing in other Vatican offices. Was he still running interference for them? Continue reading

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