Tuesday, 4 September 2012

On the Papabili, Vaticanologists and Wikipedia

Preparing my obits round-up for next Friday, I had to check how to spell papabile.  Imagine my surprise to find out that that's it's got it's own Wikipedia entry!

Basically, it's a term invented by Vaticanologists to mean that one might be 'popeable' - that is likely to be elected pope.  Vaticanologists are like those 'constitutional historians' or 'royal biographers' the BBC wheels out every so often - like them, they range from the bonkers to the frankly useless and normally talk nonsense.

Wikipedia says that the most famous Vaticanologist was Peter Hebblethwaite - who my grandmother claimed wore a hole in her carpet playing snooker with my uncle.

'He who enters the Conclave as Pope, leaves it as a Cardinal'

Lists of papabili are mainly wishful thinking and tend to tell you more about the people who drew them up.  A example is Cardinal Martini, who has died aged 85 - he was touted in 2005 as the hope for liberal catholicism.  The fact that the new pope was being elected by a conclave consisting of electors appointed by a conservative pope meant nothing...

Cardinal Martini - considered papabile in 2005

I used to read a blog that would get over-excited when cardinals wore the cappa magna and Benedict XVI reintroduced the camauro.  It would love the picture of Martini in ermine.

I sometimes think that I've over-dependent on Wikipedia, but then I find that it has pages on Benedict's dress-sense and the world's largest collection of clerical hats.  Y'gotta love it!

Despite all this ecclesiastical queenery, I'm a liberal myself and would probably tend towards Martini's flavour of Catholicism...

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