August 25th 2020
I can see the obvious similarities between “Trump versus Biden” and “Francis versus whoever” . I think there is a lot truth in that, but the conclave will be rather more complex than that. As in U.S. politics, so in the Church, there is a deep division between those who are enthusiastic supporters of Francis and those who, for a variety of reasons, oppose him.
In my view that only describes part of the story. Many Catholics do not so easily fit into one camp or the other. Right wing American Catholics are inclined to see their Republican Party ideals and values as part and parcel of their Catholic Faith.
They look at the Gospel through Republican filters,
For them Francis seems to be a dangerous socialist and radical after the style of Bernie Sanders. Whereas in Europe many take a much more nuanced view.
Certainly there are many Catholics in Europe and Australia who more or less share the American “Right’s” analysis and hostility, but as I see it, these people tend to communicate only with those of a like mind. They do not represent as many ordinary Catholics as they might think.
Francis’ concern for the poor is shared by very large numbers of Catholics who cannot so easily be classified as liberals or conservatives. Quite a number of Cardinals share that concern. It will become apparent that a good number of Cardinals from the “Global South” have very different priorities, which will govern their attitudes going into the Conclave.
Edward Pentin’s book is a very useful analysis of the views of his 19 candidates, but the analysis clearly reflects his own views. It can be very helpful toto read what he has discovered of their views on a range of subjects. It does not follow that what he sees as a negative will be seen in that light by the Cardinals who will certainly study it with interest.
I think that it might take a little time for a consensus to emerge as it has to for a Cardinal to achieve the necessary two thirds of the votes, but I suspect that unlike the American November election the Conclave will be altogether more subtle.
If I can risk a prediction, I cannot see the “Anti-Francis” Cardinals having enough support to elect Cardinal Sarah, or even Raymond Burke ( utterly impossible surely).
Equally I cannot see the strongly “Pro Francis” crowd being sufficiently numerous to elect Cardinal Tagle.
The group of Cardinals who don’t really belong in either camp will be crucial in obtaining the requisite two thirds. I suspect we need to know much more about their concerns.
I certainly see parallels with Trump versus Biden, but that will only be part of the story.
These are my initial thoughts bearing in mind that, as always, so much will depend on when the Conclave happens. We could yet see one or two more consistories with new candidates, and many of the ones mentioned in Pentin’s book will soon reach 80 years old. I cannot see the election of an octogenarian Pope.
Search ‘Next Pope’.