Wednesday, Aug. 30, 1978
Pope John Paul addressed the college of cardinals at the Vatican today, remarking on the marvel of “all the Bishops of the world united to this Apostolic See with the strong bond of one communion:”
This unity transcends space, ignores racial difference and enriches us with the true values present in diverse cultures. Though peoples differ in geographical location, in language and mentality, through this one communion, they become a single great family.
As the college of Cardinals became more and more international with each consistory, speculation grew that Pope Paul VI’s successor could be non-Italian, particularly considering the universal nature of the Roman Church.
But the dominant feeling at the Vatican was that time was still not ripe for a non-Italian pope. A secret “working paper” prepared by the Italian ambassador to the Vatican and obtained by the Rome newspaper LaRepubblica reported the Curia favoring another Italian pope, citing the knowledge of Italian cardinals of the complex Vatican bureaucracy and their non-nationalistic attitudes as past popes.
Italy was only one of fifty countries represented in the conclave, but 26 of the 111 cardinal-electors were Italians, casting 23% of the votes.
Since Italian cardinals numbered far less than two-thirds of all the conclave’s electors it was inevitable that non-Italians would be “key” in electing anyone. My bold prediction for the next conclave: “Non-Italians Will Play Key Role in Papal Election.”
What other headlines for the next conclave could already write themselves?