“The Conclave is very much a struggle for the institutional heart of the Church”

No white smoke yet White smoke from the papal conclave.  The successor to Benedict XVI will need the support of two thirds of the 115 cardinals present – the Guardian is live-blogging events.  And, as the BBC Europe editor Gavin Hewitt reminds us, the choice is not the one some might wish it to be.  From Gavin Hewitt

During Monday afternoon one of the most powerful brokers in the Vatican hierarchy returned to the sensitive subject of the Vatican Bank. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone is not just the Vatican’s secretary of state, he is one of the most influential figures in the Roman Curia, the bureaucracy. He had taken exception to some of the criticism of the running of the bank.

The bank has been the source of scandal with concerns about money-laundering. Last week one of the Brazilian cardinals, Joao Braz de Aviz, criticised the management of the Vatican finances and his comments got in the papers. Cardinal Bertone accused him of leaking his criticisms. Not only did the Brazilian cardinal deny this but other cardinals applauded him.

What these exchanges laid bare was that the Curia is at the heart of the decision as to who will be the next pope.

The big divide is not between conservatives and liberals. In truth, there are very few liberals amongst the cardinals. The major division is between those who believe the Curia needs cleaning out and those who still defend the status quo. [added emphasis]

It’s a point repeated by Damian Thompson at the Telegraph, who recommends this article in the Catholic Herald.  From Damian Thompson

As he [Catholic Herald article] says, journalists are floundering this time around because they can’t see beyond the dichotomy of “conservative” and “progressive”. But if we see things in terms of Rome v reform, then paradoxically the strongest candidate of the reformers is an Italian with an insider’s knowledge of the Vatican: Cardinal Scola of Milan, who is known to be infuriated by curial corruption and, as Fr Drew says, “knows where the bodies are buried”. He’s also, as my colleague Tim Stanley points out, the bookies’ favourite. And he’s rare among Italian prelates in fully implementing Benedict XVI’s liberation of the Latin Mass. The Church could do worse. Meanwhile, I still haven’t quite got my head round the weirdness of the last Pope being still alive.

Indeed.

Adds  Guardian Ustream live-feed



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Update White smoke from the papal conclave!

And The successful candidate is the 76-year-old Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and he has chosen the name Pope Francis I.