Vatican: Conclave Surprises

Source: FSSPX News

White smoke announcing the election of a new Pope

In this period, all Vaticanists are putting forward the names of possible future popes, the papabili. American academic George Weigel recently took the opportunity to denounce some misconceptions about the election of a pope.

In the Arpil 6, 2024 Tagespost, he refutes, among other things, the idea according to which “a pope who has created a significant part of the cardinals who will elect his successor will determine his succession.”

For him, this idea is false, and he recalls that in 1878, all the cardinal electors had been appointed either by Gregory XVI or by Pius IX. And they “elected Vincenzo Gioacchino Pecci, who, under the name of Leo XIII, led the Church in a very different direction from that of his two immediate predecessors.”

Also, in 1903, 61 of the 62 cardinal electors who elected Leo XIII’s successor had been appointed by him; one would have expected them to elect a man in his image.

Instead, argues George Weigel, after Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph vetoed the election of Cardinal Secretary of State Mariano Rampolla, “they chose Giuseppe Melchiore Sarto who, under the name of Pius X firmly curbed the most daring initiatives of Leo XIII.”

Another misconception: “He who enters the conclave as pope comes out as cardinal.” According to the American academic, “in 1878, Leo XIII was elected quickly, which suggests that he must have been extremely papabile before the conclave.”

Also, the future Benedict XV, “Giacomo della Chiesa, Cardinal-Archbishop of Bologna and long serving pontifical diplomat, was certainly papabile according to the 1914 conclave, even if his election required a fierce struggle.” 

And as for Pius XII: “Practically everyone who knew anything expected that Eugenio Pacelli would succeed Pius XI – including Pius XI --, and in fact, Pacelli was elected without opposition.”