Politics of the Conclave emerge

Now that the conclave to elect the next pope will begin Tuesday, a political drama appears to be unfolding behind closed doors at the Vatican, with Italian media reporting that U.S. cardinals are trying to sway the selection process.

Several Italian newspapers have reported that the U.S. cardinals had been resisting pressure from Italian cardinals to convene the conclave right away. The Italians have more votes and more visibility, so a quick vote is thought to favor them.

Two broad factions appear to be the Romans and the reformers. On one side are mostly Italian insiders, whom some newspapers refer to here as the “feudal lords” of the Vatican. They’re eager to protect their fiefdoms and have reportedly drafted a Brazilian as their front man: the Archbishop of Sao Paolo, Cardinal Odilo Scherer.

“The Roman Curia seems to like him,” said John Thavis, author of “The Vatican Diaries.”

“Basically, that seems to be the argument against him for the reformers.”

The reformers — reportedly led by the U.S. delegation — essentially want a new sheriff in town to clean the place up, possibly even an American. The Vatican has been so fraught with scandal in recent years that the Italian media are all but cheering them on. Continue reading

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