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Author Topic:   The New Pope
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posted April 15, 2005 02:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message
It's almost time for the conclave. I believe it starts Monday April 18.
Vatican history reveals bloody, corrupt battles for church power

By David Crumm, Knight Ridder Newspapers

The stately nobility of the election about to unfold at the Vatican - eagerly watched by world leaders and members of other faiths - is all the more amazing because of the centuries of corruption, greed and murder in its past.

This first papal election of the new millennium is the crowning glory in a papal history that survived enough bizarre twists to fill a dozen sequels to Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code."

"In some past elections, people behaved very badly," the Rev. John O'Malley, a noted Catholic historian, said this week from his office at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Massachusetts. "Right up through John Paul II, popes have been trying to tie up the loose ends of the process."

One of the most bizarre loose ends was the "cadaver synod" after the election in 896 of the insanely vengeful Pope Stephen VI. He harbored so much anger at a predecessor, Pope Formosus, that he had his corpse exhumed.

Formosus' decomposing body was dressed in papal vestments, propped in a throne and put on trial for crimes against church law, including perjury. Unable to mount a defense, Formosus' ghastly remains were convicted. As punishment, the three fingers Formosus once used to bless the faithful were hacked from his right hand. His body was dragged away and thrown into the Tiber River.

Piling crime upon crime like a modern suspense novel, Stephen soon was thrown into prison himself. Formosus' friends crept into his cell and strangled him.

"Even professional historians shy away from this period because these things are so horrifying," said John-Peter Pham, a papal historian at James Madison University in Virginia and the author of the newly released "Heirs of the Fisherman."

Just how horrible did it get? Well, squeamish readers should skip the next three paragraphs.

Because the papacy often was treated as a political pawn, popes sometimes found themselves at the mercy of ruthless rulers.

Consider poor John XVI, who thought he was the rightful pope, according to Roman nobles who pushed him onto the papal throne in 997. Unfortunately, another politically powerful pope, Gregory V, was alive elsewhere in Europe.

Gregory returned to Rome with an army and wasn't amused at finding a rival. He ordered John's eyes put out as well as his nose and ears sliced off. Then, to underline the point, John was excommunicated. Should he wish to object, his lips, teeth and tongue were removed next. And his mutilated body, still alive, was shipped to a monastery.

Check the official list of popes in the Vatican's "Annuario Pontificio," the official Vatican fact book, and there are suspicious brackets around John XVI's name. That's a sign that he's now among several dozen men ignominiously dubbed anti-popes. This special class is reserved for the tragic losers in the often-bloody battles for church power.

These feuds explain another curious detail that will crop up when the upcoming conclave ends. At that point, cardinals will declare someone the 265th pontiff, but they'll also note that he's the 262nd successor to St. Peter, regarded by Catholics as the first pope.

That glitch is due to the unbridled corruption in Rome in the 11th century, which placed one particularly well-connected Roman layman on the throne three times. He took the name Benedict IX, and the Vatican list credits him with three pontificates, leaving a perennially puzzling math problem for Catholic students.

Such corruption wasn't limited to men. Centuries-old tales of a possible Pope Joan are regarded as myths by historians, but the power-hungry life of the 10th-century Roman matriarch known as Marozia is historical fact.

"The idea that women took a back seat in the Middle Ages isn't exactly true," said O'Malley, whose summary of the wild history of papal elections appears in the current issue of America magazine. "For a while, Marozia was the church's pope maker."

Her reign of terror was sparked by Pope John X, who was a bravely independent pope. That infuriated Marozia, a powerful noble who had John X imprisoned and, eventually, suffocated to death.

However, Marozia was so eager that she didn't wait for John X's murder before replacing him. First, she tried an old man, who became Leo VI but died within months. So she pushed another man onto the throne as Stephen VII. These popes were merely keeping the throne warm for her teenage son, who finally became Pope John XI in 931.

Evil influences rose and fell with the fortunes of Europe's powerful clans. A crescendo of corruption came in the 1492-1503 reign of Alexander VI, part of the notorious Borgia family.

Alexander ruled like a secular prince, fathering too many illegitimate children for historians to count. He formed a brutal partnership with his most famous son, Cesare Borgia, to murder their way across central Italy and build up the papal coffers. Cesare is famous as the purported model for Niccolo Machiavelli's cynical political essay "The Prince."

Political corruption wasn't quashed until the early 20th century, O'Malley said. "Before a conclave, leaders in some countries would instruct their cardinals that, if they saw the election was going a certain way, they were to put in a veto of that candidate."

Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria slipped the last veto into a conclave in 1903, against an Italian he didn't like. Pope Pius X was elected instead. Even though he benefited from the veto, Pius X barred vetoes in the future, part of a long series of election reforms that continued through John Paul II.

The biggest change 20th-century popes made was expanding and diversifying the College of Cardinals. As people around the world watch 115 men from dozens of countries enter the conclave on Monday, the scene will be vastly different from papal transitions even a century ago.

That's why one of the often-overlooked customs of the conclave - the cardinals' opening pledge to obey the rules set by the previous pope - is one of the most crucial traditions that will unfold next week.

It's that modern sense of integrity and concern for the needs of the world that's drawing millions of non-Catholics to watch the outcome of the conclave, said the Rev. Bob Edgar, head of the National Council of Churches in New York.

"I think we all hope the next pope keeps the commitment of Pope John Paul II to encouraging the Christian family to live more as one family and, secondly, to encouraging interfaith work," Edgar said. "We're living in a world where we need ... a pope who's vigorous enough to address global issues, such as arms transfers and AIDS. We need his strong voice on peace and justice issues."

The Vatican election also could have a political impact on a potentially influential coalition of Catholic and Protestant religious leaders now organizing in the United States.

"The new group is called Christian Churches Together in the USA, and we're looking at a possible launch at the National Cathedral in Washington in September," Edgar said. The group is expected to focus especially on poverty and environmental issues, he said.

Beyond political activism, the papal election is simply a popular story that men and women everywhere are eagerly following as each new chapter unfolds.

This week, Laura Sheahen, the senior religion editor for the popular Beliefnet Internet site, responded to overwhelming online traffic by launching, which she's calling a "Virtual Conclave." At that site, 25 religious scholars and activists are posting papal comments.

"We set this up because there's so much interest now," she said. "Catholics, non-Catholics, conservatives and liberals, everyone around the world wants to know who the next pope will be."

Crumm reports for the Detroit Free Press.

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posted April 15, 2005 08:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message
I gotta go with the Peruvian guy. I think he's got the inside track. No way they go with the German.

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posted April 17, 2005 06:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message
'Angels and Demons' Pries Into Conclave

By Catherine Donaldson-Evans

It’s a process enveloped in mystery, secrecy and spirituality. The selection of the next Roman Catholic pope will unfold before our eyes — or, rather, out of sight — beginning Monday in Vatican City.

Lucky for us, we have Dan Brown’s (search) historical thriller “Angels & Demons” (search) to help shed some light on what is going on among members of the College of Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel. Right?

Many Americans seem to agree, as sales of "Angels & Demons" — first out in 2000 about a terrorist plot against the Vatican during a secret conclave to elect a new pope — have gone up since John Paul II's (search) April 2 death, according to the novel's publisher.

"What is said in 'Angels & Demons' has become the touchstone for many people for what to expect," said Dan Burstein, co-author of “Secrets of Angels & Demons” (search) an unauthorized book that tries to decode the best-selling Brown novel and separate fact from fiction.

But some experts say don't believe everything you read.

"Let's be clear, folks — it's fiction," Tom Roberts, editor of the independent news weekly National Catholic Reporter (search), told from Rome. "You're reading a novel. You're not reading a documentary; you're not reading history."

While it never claims to be something other than fiction, "Angels & Demons" does have "fact" and "author's note" sections — like its sequel, Brown's runaway 2003 bestseller "The Da Vinci Code" (search) — that explain what references are true.

In any case, "Angels & Demons" takes a stab at describing what happens in the secret vote for the next pope:

"Conclave … The final hurdle. It was one of the oldest traditions in Christendom," Brown writes. "Nowadays, because the outcome of conclave was usually known before it began, the process was criticized as obsolete — more of a burlesque than an election.

"The camerlengo knew, however, this was only a lack of understanding. Conclave was not an election. It was an ancient, mystic transference of power. The tradition was timeless … the secrecy, the folded slips of paper, the burning of the ballots, the mixing of ancient chemicals, the smoke signals.”

Brown has been in seclusion lately, declining all press interviews and reportedly writing his next book. But interviews published on his Web site offer some insight.

"I am constantly amazed how much 'secret' information is readily available out there if one knows where to dig," Brown says on his site. "For example, the detailed description in 'Angels & Demons' depicting the intimate ritual of Vatican conclave — the threaded necklace of ballots ... the mixing of chemicals ... the burning of the ballots — much of that was from a book published on Harvard University Press by a Jesuit scholar who had interviewed more than 100 cardinals ..."

The book made few waves when it first came out, but now, partly because of the success of its follow-up, "The Da Vinci Code," it is also reportedly becoming a bestseller, with more than 8 million copies in print, according to publisher Simon & Schuster.

Simon & Schuster said last week it has seen an increase in sales with the death of Pope John Paul II.

"We attribute the increased sales to interest in the cardinals' conclave," spokesman Adam Rothberg said.

Some scholars warn against relying on Brown's thriller to figure out what will happen this time, since he blends historical facts, legends and fictional storylines together.

"It's not so much wrong, as out of date," Burstein said. "He based it on procedures that were done for many years prior to Pope John Paul II.

"If you judge it by the norms of the traditional historical novel, he's done a lot of research and his facts are pretty good. ... When Dan Brown deals with the papal selection process in 'Angels and Demons,' he's actually quite factual, within reason."

What we do know is that 115 cardinals in the elite red-robed College of Cardinals will congregate in the Sistine Chapel Monday to cast their votes for the next pope by secret ballot. For the first time, they won't be housed in the Apostolic Palace but rather will sleep in a $20 million hotel residence called the Domus Sanctae Marthae and will be able to go outside the Chapel complex, as long as they stay within Vatican City.

Thousands of reporters will be at hand, but there likely won't be much to see or hear, except for a wisp of smoke and a tolling of church bells.

"You go down to the plaza and you wait for the smoke," Roberts said. "It really is primitive. The smoke is never really black or white — it's usually gray — so this year there will be bells ringing" when the new pope is elected.

But perhaps the best person to explain the conclave — or offer reasons not to explain the conclave — is the late pope himself.

“It has been my wish to give particular attention to the age-old institution of the Conclave, the rules and procedures of which have been established and defined," wrote Pope John Paul II on the Vatican's Web site.

"A careful historical examination confirms both the appropriateness of this institution, given the circumstances in which it originated and gradually took definitive shape, and its continued usefulness for the orderly, expeditious and proper functioning of the election itself, especially in times of tension and upheaval …

"I further confirm, by my apostolic authority, the duty of maintaining the strictest secrecy with regard to everything that directly or indirectly concerns the election process itself.”

To date, the Vatican has released no official comment on "Angels & Demons" or "The Da Vinci Code," which has more than 25 million copies in print.

But Roman Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone — a former Vatican official considered by some as a possible candidate for pope — said last month that "The Da Vinci Code" espouses heresy, calling it "a sack full of lies against the church." The novel contends that Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene were married and have descendents; Bertone urged Catholic bookstores to remove it from their shelves.

Another high-ranking Catholic, Brazilian Monsignor Jose Maria Pinheiro — nominated to be bishop of Sao Paulo by John Paul II about a month before he died — quickly softened those statements. He encouraged readers to use caution before reading Brown's books but said Bertone's statements weren't the official Vatican position, nor did the Catholic Church support book banning, according to media reports.

Brown himself has said that during his research for his thrillers he was invited in to see the pope in what is known as a "semi-private audience" in a special room inside Vatican City, during which the pope spoke to Brown and a group of people and blessed them.

"Dawn came late to Rome. An early rainstorm had washed the crowds from St. Peter's Square," writes Brown at the end of "Angels & Demons," after a harrowing disaster is dealt with but before a new pope has been named. "The media stayed on, huddling under umbrellas and in vans, commentating on the evening's events. Across the world, churches overflowed. It was a time of reflection and discussion ... in all religions."

And, when a pope in the novel is named, Brown writes: "The midmorning sky still hung heavy with clouds as the Sistine Chapel's chimney gave up its first faint puffs of white smoke."

Whether you like the "Angels & Demons" portrayal or not, the conclave remains an enigma even to those right there in Rome — especially since the College of Cardinals decided last week to stop all media interviews.

"What you see is a whole lot of cardinals hustled by cameras saying, I don't want to talk," said the Catholic Reporter's Roberts. "We're getting little bits and snips from just a few cardinals.

"It could all get very interesting, but we just don't know. It's as if the conventions came here and all went secret."

The cardinals themselves are in the dark about all the details, too — though hopefully by the time they go into conclave, they'll see the light. A prominent Honduran cardinal said he's happy to be among the "papabile" — those possessing pope potential — but no one on earth knows what will happen April 18.

"Only the Holy Spirit knows who the successor is to His Holiness," said Archbishop of Tegucigalpa Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga (search).

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posted April 18, 2005 09:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for NEWSFLASH   Click Here to Email NEWSFLASH     Edit/Delete Message
Pope Movie Hits the Vatican

A film that follows the life of the late Pope John Paul II has premiered in Vatican City - just two weeks after the Catholic leader died. Karol: The Man Who Became Pope charts the life of the late pontiff, whose real name was Karol Wojtyla, from his childhood in Poland to becoming a much-loved Pope. The first of the movie's two parts will screen on Italian television screens today, the date cardinals are set to elect Wojtyla's successor. Polish actor Piotr Adamczyk, who plays the title role, is concentrating on the essence of Wojtyla's character as opposed to studying his physical attributes. He says, "We were trying not to copy Karol Wojtyla. Not to copy his gestures, his voice - but to give symbols to try to touch the fragments of his great personality." Before he died, the Catholic leader had been aware the film was in production, but had told Adamczyk, "You're crazy to make a film about me. What did I ever do?" Pope John Paul II died on April 2 aged 84.

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posted April 18, 2005 10:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message
Irish Bookmaker Taking Bets on Next Pope

By SHAWN POGATCHNIK, Associated Press Writer

DUBLIN, Ireland - While the cardinals huddle over who should become the next pope, Ireland's largest bookmaker has been doing a big business that for some gamblers would mean thousands of dollars going up in smoke.

Paddy Power PLC, which often features irreverent gambling opportunities, has been taking bets for the past five years on who will succeed John Paul II. With Monday's start to the secretive conclave, gamblers have flocked to the company's Web site.

"It's unbelievable. This is the biggest novelty bet we've ever run, much bigger than the Oscars," said Paddy Power, a spokesman for the firm of the same name, in a telephone interview from the outskirts of Vatican City, where his grease-pencil odds board highlights the market dynamics.

Power said more than 9,000 bets have come in since John Paul's death, including 1,500 Sunday and about 700 more by midday Monday, worth a total exceeding $195,000.

Several other Web-based bookies also are listing their own — and often very different — papal odds, including British-based Pinnacle and William Hill.

But Paddy Power offers the most options, with odds for 88 of the 115 cardinals, led by Francis Arinze of Nigeria at 3-1, while 14 cardinals at the bottom rate 125-1. A winning $1 bet at 3-1 odds would pay out $4, while 125-1 would return $126.

A few big bets have shifted the odds substantially. Arinze surged Monday from 8-1 after receiving several large bets Sunday, including one for $1,300. In second place stood Joseph Ratzinger of Germany at 9-2, the previous narrow favorite.

French Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger was in third at 5-1. The odds were current as of 10 a.m. EDT.

The biggest bet, for $2,600, has landed on Italy's Cardinal Carlo Martini, raising him from the middle of the board to fourth place at 13-2. The longtime Italian favorite, Dionigi Tettamanzi, meanwhile has fallen into fifth place.

The odds on four American cardinals stand at 100-1, but Power said that may have more to do with the fact that U.S. credit cards — almost alone in the world — are barred for use on gambling sites. Most bets from Americans were coming through friends with European credit cards, he said.

"The betting can have a definite nationalistic tone," he said. "Croatians were calling up and asking why their cardinal wasn't on the list — he's on now! — and the Australians were extremely quick to bid up their cardinals."

Substantial sums are also landing on how long the cardinals' conclave will take before it sends up the puffs of white smoke from the Sistine Chapel chimney that signal the election of a pope. A decision Tuesday or Wednesday both merit 6-4 odds, while a deadlock lasting more than six days is considered unlikely at 7-1.

Yet another angle seeks wagers on the new pope's name. Benedict is favorite at 3-1, John Paul just behind at 7-2. Augustine and Damian trail the pack at 80-1.

Power's advertising odds board in Rome cannot take any cash bets directly. Nonetheless, it has drawn attention from Vatican City security forces.

"Yesterday, we set up right outside St. Peter's Square and were nearly arrested by undercover police," he said. "Today, we're staying on the edge of the city so we can make a quick getaway if we have to. We don't want to end up in the slammer."

Catholic Church policy takes a more sanguine view toward gambling, particularly for its own parish fund-raisers.

Its teachings, as updated by John Paul II, advise that "games of chance or wagers are not in themselves contrary to justice. They become morally unacceptable when they deprive someone of what is necessary to provide for his needs and those of others. The passion for gambling risks becoming an enslavement."

Gambling is in the soul of Ireland, a European center for horse racing. It's common here to have a bookmakers shop beside a pub playing live sports events.

But with the advent of the Internet, bookie chains based chiefly in Britain and Ireland have developed international pitches, as illustrated by Paddy Power's other novelty offerings Monday: odds on who'll win the "American Idol" TV show and be cast as J.R. Ewing in "Dallas the Movie."

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posted April 18, 2005 04:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for HollywoodProducer   Click Here to Email HollywoodProducer     Edit/Delete Message
These people are nuts!

In Rome, Tens of Thousands Await New Pope

By NIKO PRICE, Associated Press Writer

VATICAN CITY - Tens of thousands of faithful had been standing on the cobblestones for hours Monday — Rwandan nuns in blue habits, Filipino monks in gray robes and tourists in T-shirts mixed together — shaking hands and hugging in the sign of peace.

Thousands of pilgrims began their stakeout in St. Peter's Square early in the day, and as the sun sank in the sky the square began to fill. By evening, there was a lopsided crowd of tens of thousands, grouped on the south side of the square from which the chimney is visible.

As a curl of smoke spread into the chilly evening air, a gasp spread quickly through the crowd. "Is it black?" asked an American priest. "It's white!" cried a Roman clerk. But within seconds, jubilation gave way to resignation when the chimney began belching decidedly black smoke.

Paz Angelica Casillas, a honeymooner from Mexico, stopped jumping up and down and released her new husband from an embrace.

"I feel like crying," said Casillas, 25, from the town of Tepatitlan. "We wanted so much for it to be white."

But the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics were to spend another night without an earthly leader. The black smoke signaled that no man had received two-thirds of the vote from the 115 cardinals sequestered in the chapel. White smoke would have meant the world had a new pope.

"This is history," said Hernan Aracena, 19, wrapped in a Venezuelan flag. "As time goes by, this will be one of those moments where you say, `I was there.'"

Lance Smaw, a firefighter from Mesa, Ariz., dialed home to tell his wife Colleen he was in place.

"We're sitting in the square, waiting for the smoke to come from the chimney," he reported. "Words cannot describe this place."

Smaw, 35, flew into Rome with three friends Monday morning, leaving Colleen to take care of the kids. "She's taking one for the team," he said.

"It's just a part of history and a part of a new tomorrow, a new start," he said. "Not many people have the chance to do something like this."

At the edge of the large column-lined square, people paused at a newsstand selling the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, which on Monday featured a four-page spread with photos of each of the 115 voting cardinals — one of whom almost certainly will be the new pontiff. Although the conclave can elect any baptized Catholic male as pope, that has rarely been done.

Many of those in the square said they were praying for God to help the cardinals choose their new leader.

"Now what we are all hoping for is that the Lord illuminates the cardinals ... that the Lord through them makes the decision," said the Rev. Luis Serrano, a 28-year-old priest from Isla Margarita, Venezuela, who is studying theology in Rome. "It is a very strong burden, choosing the pope who will guide the church."

Sister Monica, a 27-year-old Carmelite nun from Ragusa, Italy, said she was confident they would make a wise choice.

"I strongly believe that the Holy Spirit will be the 116th (elector), and the most important one," she said. "It will be He who will decide it all."

Before the cardinals entered the Sistine Chapel and declared "extra omnes" — Latin for "all out" — they held a final Mass which was broadcast on four giant screens in the square. Thousands of people turned out, many weeping as they absorbed the solemnity of the occasion.

Tears streamed down the faces of Leila Mota and Mariana Dias as they embraced tightly.

"For the rest of my life, I'll keep this moment in my heart," said Dias, a 27-year-old architect from Natal, Brazil. "The emotion is so strong, the faith is so great."

Sobbing, she said she could feel John Paul's presence.

"I've seen Masses here on television, but I never imagined when I got here I'd feel him so close to me," she said.

Many of the pilgrims said they would come to the square every day until a cardinal cries from a Vatican balcony "Habemus papam" — "We have a pope" — however long it takes.

"This is the first conclave of the new millennium," said Sister Jolanta, a 29-year-old Polish nun. "This election involves not only the church, but all of humanity."

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posted April 18, 2005 06:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message
A Nazi pope probably wouldn't be good.

Cardinals' Detractors Hang 'Dirty Laundry'

By FRANCES D'EMILIO, Associated Press Writer

VATICAN CITY - Accusations of involvement in kidnappings of priests in Argentina dog one papal contender. "Revelations" about Nazi links surface about another top candidate. Gossipy items about health problems raise doubts about others.

Like a U.S. presidential campaign, the run-up to the election of a pope has seen some dirty laundry hung out in public, and it's not the cardinals' red socks that are getting an airing.

Among the "princes of the church" being targeted was German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, one of Pope John Paul II's most trusted aides and a man some Vatican watchers have put in pole position in the race to be pope.

Journalists have been poking around Ratzinger's teenage years during World War II, apparently searching for evidence of any pro-Nazi sentiment.

And on Friday, Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was cited in a criminal complaint alleging involvement in the 1976 kidnappings of two fellow Jesuits during Argentina's dark years of military dictatorship. The cardinal's spokesman called the allegation by a human rights lawyer "old slander."

Closet doors are being yanked open in efforts to shape the fortunes of those in the conclave, which began Monday with a first, inconclusive vote.

Also being swept out in the search for dirt are purported health problems.

The Corriere della Sera's daily column on the rise and fall of pre-conclave fortunes noted the "small pieces of gossip tossed out there with apparent nonchalance but which translate into little bombs."

Among the potential bombshells was an item in the communist daily Il Manifesto that Venice Cardinal Angelo Scola's future "could be burned for health reasons" over allegations he suffers strong headaches and "nervous depression."

Cardinals and their aides closely monitor the Italian media. But now that they have been sequestered in Vatican City since Sunday night, the electors aren't allowed to follow the news under strict rules set by John Paul to discourage outside influence.

Other Italian reports said Bombay Cardinal Ivan Dias, who is seen as a long-shot candidate, has diabetes. They later reported that a priest who spoke with the 69-year-old Dias said the reports were wrong.

Several reports noted that the former archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, has a tremor that could be a sign of Parkinson's, the disease John Paul suffered from in his last years.

Martini has been widely mentioned as a possible "anti-candidate" to counter Ratzinger.

The German cardinal is a hero to doctrinal conservatives, while liberal camps are supposedly rooting for Martini, who is considered more open-minded.

The 78-year-old Bavarian prelate is the supposed favorite of cardinals leaning toward an elderly figure to lead the church for likely just a few years while churchmen try to absorb the legacy of John Paul's 26 years at the helm.

A Sunday Times of London profile on Ratzinger, saying his doctrinal watchdog role has earned him uncomplimentary nicknames like "God's rottweiler," reported on the cardinal's "brief membership" in the Hitler Youth movement and service, in the final stretch of World War II, in a German anti-aircraft unit.

In his memoirs, Ratzinger speaks openly of being enrolled in the Nazi youth movement against his will when he was 14 in 1941, when membership was compulsory. He says he was soon let out because of his studies for the priesthood.

Two years later he was drafted into a Nazi anti-aircraft unit as a helper, a common fate for teenage boys too young to be soldiers. Enrolled as a soldier at 18, in the last months of the war, he barely finished basic training.

Ratzinger's wartime past "may return to haunt him," the British paper wrote on the eve of the conclave's start.

Web sites, presumably propelled by Ratzinger supporters, churned out articles in his defense, including one by the Jerusalem Post seeking to knock down much of the Times' harsh description of the cardinal's background.

Also sharply attacked in recent days has been another Italian contender, Milan Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, with detractors insisting he isn't the down-to-the bone conservative many see him as.

But Tettamanzi's star was already seen as falling years ago by those whose credo is the oft-cited Italian proverb: "He who enters the conclave a pope comes out a cardinal." That camp contends the buzz on Tettamanzi began too soon to sustain enough support for him into the conclave.

Similarly, some suspect that reports Ratzinger had gained wide consensus in the days ahead of the vote were a tactic by those who wanted to shoot down his star. With cardinals refusing interviews in the last days before the conclave, none of the Italian reports cited any sources.

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posted April 19, 2005 10:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message
New pope a conservative who divided Germans
But Ratzinger a favorite son in Alpine hills of Bavaria

The Associated Press

TRAUNSTEIN, Germany - Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger alienated some Roman Catholics in Germany with his zeal enforcing church orthodoxy. But in the conservative Alpine foothills of Bavaria where he grew up, he remains a favorite son who many think will make a good pope.

Ratzinger, a rigorously conservative guardian of doctrinal orthodoxy who turned 78 on Saturday and was chosen the Catholic Church’s 265th pontiff Tuesday, went into the Vatican conclave a leading candidate to succeed Pope John Paul II.

“Only someone who knows tradition is able to shape the future,” said the Rev. Thomas Frauenlob, who heads the seminary in Traunstein where Ratzinger studied and regularly returns to visit.

Clashes with fellow Germans
But opinion about him remains deeply divided in Germany, a sharp contrast to John Paul, who was revered in his native Poland. A recent poll for Der Spiegel news weekly said Germans opposed Ratzinger becoming pope outnumbered supporters 36 percent to 29 percent, with 17 percent having no preference. The poll of 1,000 people, taken April 5-7, gave no margin of error.

Many blame Ratzinger for decrees from Rome barring Catholic priests from counseling pregnant teens on their options and blocking German Catholics from sharing communion with their Lutheran brethren at a joint gathering in 2003.

Ratzinger has clashed with prominent theologians at home, most notably the liberal Hans Kueng, who helped him get a teaching post at the University of Tuebingen in the 1960s. The cardinal later publicly criticized Kueng, whose license to teach theology was revoked by the Vatican in 1979.

'He has hurt many people'
He has also sparred openly in articles with fellow German Cardinal Walter Kasper, a moderate who has urged less centralized church governance and is considered a dark horse papal candidate.

“He has hurt many people and far overstepped his boundaries in Germany,” said Christian Wiesner, spokesman for the pro-reform Wir Sind Kirche, or We Are Church movement.

Ratzinger himself, in his autobiography, sensed he was out of step with his fellow Germans as early as the 1960s, when he was a young assistant at the Second Vatican Council in Rome.

Returning to Germany between sessions, “I found the mood in the church and among theologians to be agitated,” he wrote. “More and more there was the impression that nothing stood fast in the church, that everything was up for revision.”

Ratzinger left Tuebingen during student protests in the late 1960s and moved to the more conservative University of Regensburg in his home state of Bavaria.

Catholics and Protestants each account for about 34 percent of the German population, but Bavaria is one of the more heavily Catholic areas.

“What Wadowice was for John Paul, Bavaria is for Ratzinger,” said Frauenlob, referring to John Paul II’s hometown in southern Poland. “He has very deep roots here, it’s his home.”

Son of a policeman
The cardinal was born in Marktl Am Inn, but his father, a policeman, moved frequently and the family left when he was 2.

He and his older brother, Georg — former director of the renowned Regensburger Domspatzen boys choir — return annually to the peaceful halls of St. Michael’s Seminary to stay in the elegant, but sparsely furnished bishop’s apartment next to the church.

An accomplished pianist who loves Mozart, Ratzinger enjoys playing the grand piano in the seminary’s main hall, and walking through downtown Traunstein greeting people, Frauenlob said.

Traunstein was also where Ratzinger went through the harrowing years of Nazi rule and World War II. In 1943, he was drafted as an assistant to a Nazi anti-aircraft unit and sent to Munich. A year later he was released, only to be sent to the Austrian-Hungarian border to construct tank barriers.

Briefly held by Americans as POW
He deserted the Germany army in May 1945 and returned to Traunstein — a risky move, since deserters were shot on the spot if caught, or publicly hanged as examples to others.

When he arrived home, U.S. soldiers took him prisoner and held him in a POW camp for several weeks. Upon his release, he re-entered the seminary.

Ratzinger was ordained, along with his brother, in 1951. He then spent several years teaching theology. In 1977, he was appointed bishop of Munich and elevated to cardinal three months later by Pope Paul VI.

Pope John Paul II named him leader of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1981, where he was responsible for enforcing Catholic orthodoxy and was one of the key men in the drive to shore up the faith of the world’s Roman Catholics.

Called a subtle thinker
Ratzinger speaks several languages, among them Italian and English, as well as his native language German.

Frauenlob calls him a subtle thinker with a deep understanding of Catholic tradition and a personal touch he’s not often given credit for.

He cites the example of the seminary’s 2003 confirmation service where no bishop was available. Ratzinger swiftly agreed to come, confirming the 14 boys, then taking time to speak personally to each one after the ceremony.

“I find it hurtful to see him described as a hard-liner,” Frauenlob said. “People are too quick to say that, it’s not an accurate reflection of his personality.”

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posted April 19, 2005 10:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for a   Click Here to Email a     Edit/Delete Message
I BLAME THE DA VINCI CODE! Only that book would create such a backlash that an Opus Di founder with a nazi background could become Pope.

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posted April 19, 2005 10:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GeorgeWBush   Click Here to Email GeorgeWBush     Edit/Delete Message
Liberals and Jews are in mourning today. Thank Goodness the Church has chosen a TRUE conservative, Ratzinger, a former member of the Hitler Youth and a hero to all of us conservative Republicans!

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posted April 19, 2005 10:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Arrogant Fuck   Click Here to Email Arrogant Fuck     Edit/Delete Message
Wasn't he Cliff on cheers?

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posted April 19, 2005 10:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message
Yes, he was Cliff on cheers.

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posted April 19, 2005 11:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for HollywoodProducer   Click Here to Email HollywoodProducer     Edit/Delete Message
New York Post


A "fuhrer" furor is dogging the papal candidacy of Germany's top Roman Catholic cleric — over revelations he was a member of the Hitler Youth.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger — a favorite to become the next pontiff — joined the Nazi children's corps in 1941 as a 14-year-old and was later an anti-aircraft gunner.

At one point, he guarded a factory where slaves from a concentration camp were forced to work. He was later shipped to Hungary, where he reportedly saw Jews persecuted.

Ratzinger, a staunch conservative dubbed "God's Rottweiler," has said he joined the Hitler Youth when membership became compulsory. He and his brother were later drafted but deserted. The cardinal claims he never fired a shot and that resistance would have meant death.

Not so, Germans from his hometown of Traunstein told The Times of London.

"It was possible to resist, and those people set an example for others," recalled Elizabeth Lohner, 84. "The Ratzingers were young — and they had made a different choice."

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posted April 19, 2005 11:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message
How ironic is it that a Polish pope was replaced by a German pope?

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