Picking the Pope’s successor – Pell was ‘so in favour’ of Erdo

Pope's successor

Picking the Pope’s successor was at the top of Cardinal George Pell’s to do list in the weeks before his death. He was secretly promoting someone very different from Francis.

Hungarian writer and polemicist Rod Dreher says Pell told him he was “so in favour” of conservative Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo (pictured) as Francis’s successor.

Expecting an imminent conclave,  Pell was preparing to play the role of kingmaker in any papal election, Dreher claims.

“He was hoping to crown a candidate who would take things in a very different direction from that pursued by Pope Francis.”

Dreher notes Pell “wielded enormous influence across the church in the English-speaking world” and had a huge network of contacts, especially among the US bishops and friends in Rome.

He secretly wrote of Francis’s papacy as a “catastrophe”, Dreher says.

Two very different men

Francis and Dreher appeal to different people and have very different priorities and personalities.

Erdo’s candidacy is attractive to conservatives.

He holds theological and political positions at odds with Francis.

He also maintains a relatively low-key media profile, unlike the media-savvy Francis.

During the synods on the family in 2014 and 2015, he held the position of relator general, which saw him outlining the synod discussions and summarising interventions.

Where Francis is open to change, Erdo’s 2015 introductory speech at the synod focused on the Canon law status of divorced and remarried Catholics.

“They may only receive communion if they renounced sexual relations with their new spouse,” he told synod attendees.

Integrating divorced and remarried Catholics into the Church is “different from admitting them to the Eucharist,” he proclaimed.

Dreher says the speech reportedly surprised synod participants. Francis’s pontificate had led them to expect a more open discussion on the topic.

In another contrasting view from Francis, Erdo has not spoken out strongly on the refugee crisis.

Francis, on the other hand, has made saving refugees one of the central features of his pontificate.

“It is obvious that everyone has the sacred right to try to survive in situations of famine, civil war and threats to life,” Erdo said during an interview.

“You cannot force the Europeans to allow entrance – even illegally and without any control – to the entire world into their countries because doing so would break down public order, which is very attractive to those living in chaos.”

Erdo is “a very fine canon lawyer,” Pell pointed out. On the other hand, in Francis’ pontificate, Rome had become “lawless,” he said.

That Pell allegedly planned for a post-Francis future goes against Pope St John Paul II’s rules on the conclave.

Published in 1996, the rules 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.”

Disregarding these, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York has sent copies of the book ‘The Next Pope’ to fellow US cardinals.

Francis, who is 86, has shown no signs of planning to step down.


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