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Rome

French cardinal says race still wide open

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Journalists are often derided as a fairly un-churched bunch, but yesterday the 5,000-plus reporters covering the conclave swelled the churches of Rome to catch a glimpse of cardinals saying Mass, hoping to pick up some hint of what to expect when things get underway tomorrow.

On that front, probably the most interesting insight came from Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon, France.

A boost for Ravasi in CDF verdict on book?

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In the overheated atmosphere of the pre-conclave period, and in the absence of polling data or any other empirical sign of which way things are trending, absolutely everything is scrutinized as a possible hint of who the next pope might be.

If an overseas cardinal says Mass in Italian, it’s taken as a sign that he’s trying to prove he could be Bishop of Rome; if two cardinals are seen together drinking coffee, it can spark a volcano of speculation about possible coalitions.

Who woulda thunk it? The Americans are folk heroes

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Journalism 101 teaches you to put your article’s bold claim at top, so people will pay attention, and then qualify it to death later if you must.

So, here’s my bold claim: Against all odds, the American cardinals are emerging as the anti-establishment insurgents of the 2013 conclave.

I say “against all odds” because it’s become conventional wisdom that over the last twenty years, the goalposts within the U.S. bishops’ conference have shifted to the right, towards defense of church teaching and tradition rather than accommodating secular mores.

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July 18-31, 2014

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