Tomorrow marks the start of Lent and the Vatican informs us that we will have a new Pope by Easter. In that vein I thought it might be interesting to revisit the writings of another Armagh man, St Malachy.
St Malachy is purported to have made a prophesy about the Papacy detailing all the Pope's from Pope Celestine II all the way down to the last Pope, Pope Benedict XVI's successor, a man known simply as Petrus Romanus.
The last section makes reference to Peter the Roman, in English it states the following
"In the extreme persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit Peter the Roman, who will pasture his sheep in many tribulations and when these things are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the terrible judge will judge his people"
The Church has always regarded the prophesy as a forgery and never set much store by it.
Still, when looking at the papabili it makes for interesting reading.
Paddy Power has the leader’s odds thus
1. Cardinal Marc Ouellet (3/1)
Cardinal Ouellet has headed the Congregation for Bishops since 2010 and has strong Curial connections. A native of Quebec he has annoyed quite a few Liberal Catholics in Canada with his position on Catholic social issues.
2. Cardinal Angelo Scola (4/1)
Regarded by many as the Crown Prince of the Catholic Church. The Archbishop of Milan is Conservative and was close to both the current Holy Father and Pope John Paul II. Though at 71 his age may count against him.
3. Cardinal Peter Turkson (4/1)
The first Cardinal of Ghana and relator of the Synod of Africa is also the head of Vatican's Council for Justice and Peace, which released a document in 2011 calling for radical economic reforms to deal with the global recession. The document condemned the "idolatry of the market", and Cardinal Turkson expressed support for the Occupy Wall Street protest movement.
That said his suspected soft stance of contraception may place him at odds with the vast majority of conservative Princes appointed by both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II.
Will one of these men be Petrus Romanus?
There are many rules surrounding Conclave, in fact Pope John Paul’s 1996 decree on selecting a successor for the Petrine succession imposed some hard fast rules that Conclave must observe.
While it is true that the Pope need not be a Prince of the Chruch, in fact any baptised Catholic Male could become Pope, the last time a non Cardinal was elected Pope was when Urban VI was elected to lead the Church in 1378.
There is an old phrase that states
"He who enters the conclave as Pope, leaves it as a Cardinal"