The Italian media has anointed one of their own: Cardinal Angelo Scola

Brian Bethune’s latest from Rome

The Italian media, not exactly known for their even-handed lack of national bias in soccer coverage, are no less intensely nationalistic when it comes to another favourite national sport, pope picking. It’s anointed Milan Cardinal Angelo Scola the favourite. That’s hardly surprising: for one thing, anyone who wants an Italian AND a reformer has few options. For another, a lot of non-Italians like him too. At 71 he is neither too old nor too young–it’s still uncertain how Benedict’s resignation will play out in all its possible ramifications, but it has surely made the traditional age calculation at best an uncertain factor. The son of a truck driver, who turned to the priesthood relatively late (age 29), Scola has known Benedict for 40 years and is close to him theologically and personally. His election might foretell what one Catholic commentator has called ”the continuation of the Benedictine papacy by other means.” Perhaps more intriguingly, Scola’s apparent willingness to spearhead the cardinal bloc wishing to thoroughly revamp the Curia probably means that reform was indeed the principal task Benedict felt unable to take on in his final years, but was equally unwilling to let fester until his death.

Still waiting for today’s smoke….