Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The VWS Forecast

OK, for those who think that the church is a gerontocracy, earlier today the Italian "grandi elettori" (comprised of Parliament and regional representatives) elected 80 year-old Giorgio Napolitano as the new president of the Republic, succeeding the retiring (and wildly popular) octogenarian, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.

Napolitano (shown at left), a former Communist who served as interior minister in the last Romano Prodi government in the mid-90s, will be sworn in on Monday.

Turning to more pertinent matters, however, last week the Vatican Weather Service called a (Curial) Tsunami Watch slated to last until Benedict XVI leaves for Poland on the 25th of the month. (It might be elevated to Warning status in the interim....) These reports have gained further credence on a headline in today's edition of Il Messaggero: "Cardinal Sepe will be named archbishop of Naples."

Returning to speculation which had run rampant for months, the newspaper reported that the Naples appointment will be arriving "shortly." The current archbishop, Cardinal Michele Giordano -- who turned 75 last fall -- is said to have made it known that his successor "will [already] be a cardinal." While the brief also offers the name of the recently-elevated Cardinal Agostino Vallini, head of the Apostolic Signatura (the church's highest court) and a former auxiliary of the archdiocese, it's believed that Sepe is the safer bet, having concluded his quinquennium as prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Il Messaggero goes on to say that, "as the year of study the Pope gave himself has passed," other chairs at the Curial table look to be changing quickly. Cardinal Angelo Sodano's succession as Secretary of State is said to be between two current cardinals: the San Damaso veteran Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and Ratzinger's Salesian confidant Tarcisio Bertone, the archbishop of Genoa. To succeed the American Edmund Szoka as head of the Governatorato, the Vatican's civil government, the paper tips Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, the current Secretary for Relations with States, i.e. the Pope's foreign minister. A previous round of buzz had Sepe going to the Gov.

In the United States, last-minute preparations are being completed for Bishop Richard Lennon's installation in Cleveland on Monday afternoon. And, despite being a month off his 75th birthday, word is that the Holy See will soon announce Bishop Joseph Imesch's successor in Joliet. No ordination will be necessary for the designee.

AP/Pier Paolo Cito (Does he ever sleep?)