The Conclave Has Begun, by Kristine Ward

Published on February 19, 2013

Before we actually find out who is behind door number one on the balcony of the largest Church in Christendom, the jockeying, the political skills and the last minute Pope Benedict activity shouldn’t be overlooked.
One can’t help but be struck by the political skills of the Italian cardinals.
One of them, Cardinal Giandranco Ravasi, is preaching the Lenten Retreat at the Vatican this week. That means he’s commanding the face to face attention of all the Curia cardinals. In addition, as the Lenten retreat preacher his statements will make their way into official and not so official postings on the Internet.
He’s commanding the attention of the Curia Cardinals, one of the larger voting blocs of Cardinal electors, on an unfettered and wide open stage that’s laid out with a day’s worth of time every day through Saturday.
Plenty of time for private rubbing of elbows, plenty of time for jotting a note to introduce him during a luncheon, dinner, reception next week to those whom a kingmaker Cardinal thinks he needs to meet, plenty of time waiting, albeit, begging to be used – complete with the complete texts of what he’s saying – courtesy of the papal print machine.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Cardinal Dolan is by his own admission, “waiting for instructions” about when the conclave will begin. Superpower or no superpower is there any reason not to understand why Americans are not serious contenders for the papacy?
The conclave, for all intents and purposes, has begun.
Those who aren’t on the ground in Rome will be playing catch up, second half ball.
The kingmakers are in session.
Money isn’t an object so why not have booked a flight, packed your bags and shown up Sunday night at 6 PM at the Vatican muscled your way in, — the element of surprise is always useful — or simply walked in among your brother Cardinals letting them to figure out what you might be up to — “retreating” or charging?
Pope Benedict’s activity was also in evidence as the “retreat” opened. He re-appointed four of the cardinals who have headed the Vatican Bank – no letting these decisions to his successor – and named a new cardinal to the overseer board of five. This is on top of his decision last week naming a new head of the Vatican Bank.
Where your treasure is, there your heart will be?
While commentators continue to write and say that there will not be an papal audiences during the “retreat” Pope Benedict held an audience Monday evening with the Prime Minister of Italy Mario Monti. He is a candidate for re-election in the Italian election that will take place on February 24-25 and his primary rival is former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who usually controls the media coverage because he owns most of the media outlets in the country and can afford to outspend his rivals by the bucket load. Berlusconi, much to his own displeasure is being overshadowed as a campaigner by the abdicating pope.
Let’s not forget that planned unusual 8 PM laying down of the papal keys of the kingdom. Four tantalizing, vacant hours left over on February 28 for what to happen in the legal, banking, criminal courts, and diplomatic worlds?
Here’s something the Pope could do before 8 PM on February 28: remove criminally convicted Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City- St. Joseph.
If you haven’t already signed the petition regarding Bishop Finn, and sent it to everybody you know for their signatures, here’s the link: BishopFinnPetition.com
Think it won’t make any difference?
Maybe you also thought a Pope wouldn’t resign in your lifetime.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) KristineWard@hotmail.com

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