Among the many names circulating in the press concerning the future Pope (it would be, in fact, interesting to know whether there are Cardinals to whom no newspaper has attributed any chance; even the old heretic Meisner got his mention, which now practically leaves only Hans Kueng out) one who offers some interesting reflection is Cardinal Piacenza.
Piacenza is clearly in favour of Summorum Pontificum, though he appears not to have celebrated the Traditional Mass after it. He has scandalised the Italian journalists with his “interpretations” of Vatican II, apparently consisting – or so they say – in keeping the name and killing the rest. He appears to have the forma mentis of a “doer” rather than of a dreamer, a writer, or a traveler.
It is no more possible for me than for everyone else – including the 5,000 Journalists now enjoying the incipient Roman spring – to gauge the real chances of the man. What I would like to point out is that even if we do not get him, we should certainly hope in one like him.
Our dream – and certainly mine – of a Pope in Sixtus V-style, who starts an extremely vigorous politics of reform as soon as he has finished with the Te Deum and walks away from the Sistine Chapel at the sound of Star Wars' “Imperial March” is simply not going to happen. There would never be a two-thirds majority for such a man. Such a man is, probably, not there in the first place.
What is, with God's help, feasible, is a Pope able and willing to lead the Church out of the Vatican II quagmire without causing the Church or the Cardinals – most of them compromised with that rubbish anyway – to lose face.
The “hawks” have certainly understood Vatican II must die, and the “doves” will never vote for one like Piacenza anyway; but if there is a big enough number of “mainstream” Cardinals able to quietly accept that Vatican II is beyond healing and should be put to sleep we might get such a Pope. The counter-Aggiornamento would then happen in a face-saving, but still effective way, with – just to make an example – a counter-Syllabus of errors like the one proposed by the great Athanasius Schneider – Cardinale subito! – and other measures effectively killing the aggiornamento at its very root without too much noise.
I do not know how many Piacenzas will be sitting in the Sistine Chapel tomorrow afternoon, nor how much support they can gather; but my suspicion is that there are many more of those than the liberal leaning Press would want us to believe; Cardinals, I mean, who have realised Vatican II is an unmitigated disaster, but do not want to be made responsible for its failure, and would gladly welcome a Pope able to remove the cancer without causing too much suffering for the patient.
I doubt Ouellet can be this kind of man, as he is consistently portrayed as a timid and gentle man in the mould of the Pontiff Emeritus, and therefore in all likelihood without the energy necessary for such a work of quiet but effective demolition. I think it more probable that people like Scola would be right for the job, as he is never depicted as “shy” and is a man not compromised from a strong connection with the Curia, a circumstance which would offer the Cardinals more guarantees concerning the other big issue of governance.
We will know, possibly, as early as tomorrow evening. After days of sudden alarm every time I read of impresentabili touted as possible Cardinals, I have now come to the more tranquil conclusion that Cardinals tend to be, by all their shortcomings, prudent people, very unlikely to pick a Meisner or Schoenborn or other shameful candidates for whom the two-third hurdle should well prove insuperable.
We will, I think, rather have one of these two: a gentle, kind, timid Pope, inoffensive for the Cardinals and local hierarchy and continuing with the collegial leading style, or a more assertive, muscular, decisive Pope able to tackle problems rather than merely look at them. In the first case they will have a business as usual scenario, with the bill coming in form of continued erosion of Christianity in the West. In the second they will have a reform scenario, but with all the dangers a strong Pope represents for the local hierarchies, particularly when they are inefficient, corrupt, or both.
We will soon know.
O Lord, please give us a strong Pope.