Thursday, June 01, 2006

The CEI's New Movement

So the long weekend for the "new movements" is continuing apace. And -- aside from the three cielini cardinals -- another of the A-grade ecclesiastical luminaries being showcased is Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of Bologna, who was elevated to the College in Benedict XVI's first class of cardinals last March.

Well, the Roman buzz of late is saying that Caffarra -- who enjoys close ties to Opus Dei and even closer ties to the Pope's beloved Comunione e Liberazione, not to mention Ratzinger, himself -- is quickly becoming the front-runner to take Cardinal Camillo Ruini's place when Ruini steps down in the fall as head of the CEI, the Italian episcopal conference. (Remember that Ruini's departure from the post is seen as so seismic even the secular press is referring to what follows as the "Dopo-Ruini" -- the "Post-Ruini" era.)

Ignacio Ingrao hones in on the movement in the latest edition of Panorama, saying that "The number of bishops" who converged on Caffarra to congratulate the new cardinal at the recent assembly of the Italian bishops "wasn't lost on the participants." Not to mention "the particular affection and esteem which link him to the Pope," who, of course, will appoint the new CEI strongman. (As the Pope is primate of Italy, its episcopal conference is the only one in which the president is not elected by the body of bishops.)

It's also noted that, as opposed to Ruini, who's seen as being intricately linked with the leaders of the Italian center-right, Caffarra -- who marks his 68th birthday today -- enjoys close ties not only with Pier Ferdinando Casini, the head of the country's Christian Democratic party, but also with the center-left premier, Romano Prodi.

It's a difference of ad intra culture: "Caffarra grew up along the banks of the CL," Ingrao writes, "Ruini in that of Catholic Action."

The magazine says that, in his three years as archbishop of Bologna, Caffarra has been "the man of surprises," pursuing "bipartisan relationships with the worlds of politics and culture, keeping a marked distance from the factions."

It'll be something to see if, indeed, it all pans out.