Surprisingly the press made the same mistake in drawing up their list of potential popes as they did in reporting the Canterbury stakes. Despite the fact that he will be over 70 at the next Lambeth Conference, many newspapers couldn’t resist naming Richard Chartres as a potential archbishop. Desperate for credible non-Western candidates they are now listing Cardinal Arinze as a possible pope. Arinze was a serious candidate last time around but he is now aged 80 and will not even be in the conclave. After Benedict’s resignation, it is unlikely the Cardinals will go for someone who is only five years his junior. Cardinal Turkson from Ghana looks a more credible candidate at 64 but he may have damaged his chances by giving too many press interviews that made him appear to be campaigning for the post. The politics of the conclave can be quite dirty.
Last time around, someone leaked the information that India’s Cardinal Dias suffers from diabetes. This time the story has gone around that Cardinal Ouellet, a man who looks strong on paper with his excellent command of languages, close links with Latin America, and important post in Rome as head of the Congregation of Bishops, is a deadly dull speaker. Many would like to see Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, a plain speaker and excellent communicator, but critics are drawing attention to his limited command of foreign languages.