Cardinal Dolan sends Next Pope book to cardinals

A newly-released book, The Next Pope: The Office of Peter and a Church in Mission, is about desirable qualities in a future pope.

Copies of George Weigel’s book have been sent to all 222 cardinals across the globe, courtesy of New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

In doing so, he broke with a longstanding practice that the Church’s highest prelates refrain from publicly lobbying for possible candidates for the papacy.

Four cardinals in various parts of the world have confirmed they received the book, with an accompanying note from Dolan.

All four, whose names have been kept private, said they were concerned about the propriety of a member of the elite College of Cardinals sending such a book while the current pontiff is not known to be ill or considering resignation.

“Many of us were left speechless that this American cardinal sent us the book,” said one of the cardinals.

“We have a pope, and our beloved St. Pope John Paul II gave us clear norms about a future conclave.”

It says: “I … forbid anyone, even if he is a Cardinal, during the Pope’s lifetime and without having consulted him, to make plans concerning the election of his successor, or to promise votes, or to make decisions in this regard in private gatherings.”

Dolan addresses the recipient as “Your Eminence, my brother cardinal,” and states: “I am grateful to Ignatius Press for making this important reflection on the future of the Church available to the College of Cardinals.”

Weigel says the book “does not contain a single sentence about a future conclave.

“No potential candidates are named and no conclave strategy is discussed,” he says.

“The book is a reflection on the future of the Office of Peter in what Pope Francis has called a Church ‘permanently in mission.’ Period.”

Weigel says those concerned about Dolan’s action could consult with members of the so-called “Sankt Gallen group,” a loose association of cardinals who strategized together after John Paul’s 2005 death about who might be the best papal successor.

Although Weigel does not name cardinals who could considered as a future pope in his book, he suggests characteristics and qualities that would be desirable in the next pontiff.

He also makes several veiled criticisms of Francis, including the pope’s decision not to directly respond to a 2016 letter from four retired cardinals questioning his teachings on family life in Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”).

That exhortation was Francis’ response to two Synods of Bishops, held in 2014 and 2015.

Dolan was part of a group of 13 cardinals who wrote a letter to Francis expressing concern about the way he had organised the second of those synods.

Upon the death or resignation of a pope, all cardinals under the age of 80 are tasked with gathering in Rome to elect his successor. At present there are 122 such cardinals, including Dolan.


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News category: World.

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