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Rome

Governance a top issue in 2013 conclave

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Eight years ago, when the cardinals of the world gathered to elect a successor to Pope John Paul II, their watchword was “continuity.” Buoyed by the massive outpouring of grief and affection for the late pope that washed through the streets of Rome, they felt they had just witnessed the end of a massively successful pontificate, and they wanted to keep the momentum going.

The man who was the intellectual architect of John Paul’s papacy, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, therefore seemed an obvious choice.

Final days of Benedict full of unclear calls for change

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As a few night owls strolled through the crisp Roman evening Feb. 28, they were illuminated by one less reflection of lights. Behind the northern side of the square’s iconic colonnades, the apostolic palace was dark.

In a small but tell-tale sign of the transition facing the church, the lights of the pope’s apartment had been turned off.

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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November 21-December 5, 2014

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