What is MOST significant with Kevin Joseph Farrell’s appointment is that he is a non-European. A first, and as such, of course, the first American Camerlengo.
Do not read too much into this appointment. It does not indicate that a conclave is around the corner. Having a Camerlengo, on tap, is more normal than not having one. The 7-month gap, though possibly a tad long, is not exceptional. Popes like to wait awhile before they fill this post. Not having a Camerlengo, if the pope was to die, is not the end of the world. It happened when Pius XII died in 1958. The Dean of the College of Cardinals deputized on day 1 and then they elected a cardinal to act as the temporary Camerlengo.
We have had non-Italian Camerlenghi. The last Camerlengo, Jean-Louis Tauran, was French. So was Jean Villot, the iconic Camerlengo of the 1970s. We have also had a Spaniard, Eduardo Martínez Somalo, 1993 to 2007. So, these are the recent non-Italians. But, there was also a spate of French ones in the 14th century during the Avignon Papacy.
Choosing Farrell makes sense. At 71 he is of the right age, though one a few years younger would have made more sense. He is also a curialist; i.e., he works at the Vatican. That is a prerequisite. The Camerlengo has to reside in Rome.
So, this is all good.
Just don’t assume that a conclave is around the corner. Just revel in that he is non-European. A most welcome departure from what had been a 2,000-year custom.
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