• France's news in English
 

Can this French cardinal become the next Pope?

Published: 11 Feb 2013 19:09 GMT+01:00

With Benedict announcing he is to step down at the end of the month because of old age the Vatican’s conclave of cardinals will soon have to make a decision on who is best suited to lead the church forward.

Without the usual period of mourning following a pope’s death a decision is expected to be taken fairly swiftly and bookmakers have already drawn up a list of favourites to become the next Pontiff.

Although there is much talk of the next Pope being from Africa or Latin America, one of the names that has also been mentioned - at least in France if not beyond - is that of Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, the Archbishop of Paris.

Thanks to his outspoken position on France’s divisive gay marriage row the Archbishop’s profile has increased in recent months and there are those who believe he has a good, if outside chance, of being the next Pontiff.

“He would be a good compromise choice,” Stephane Lemessin, a priest and columnist for France’s La Croix (The Cross) newspaper told The Local. “He would not be the first choice but nevertheless he could offer a solution if there is a divide over other candidates.

“The cardinal has reformed France’s Conference of Bishops and made it more relevant in the country and he is also used to dealing with difficult issues such as gay marriage and secularism,” Lemessin added.

Vingt-trois, who also served as Archbishop of Tours between 1999 and 2005 made his stance on gay marriage quite clear back in August when he revived a centuries-old tradition to launch a thinly veiled attack on France’s governing Socialist party.

The cardinal sent a “Prayer for France” to all Catholic churches to be read out on August 15. The annual “Prayer for France” died out after World War II. It was first uttered in the seventeenth century after King Louis XIII decreed all churches would pray on August 15 for the good of the country.

In the 2012 edition he prayed for “newly elected officials” to put their “sense of common good over the pressure to meet special demands”.

His stance may have angered gay rights groups but some experts believe it may help his chances of leading the Catholic church from the Vatican.

“He did not join the protesters against marriage on the streets of Paris but he certainly handled the situation well and that will stand in his favour,” Lemessin said.

Education could be key

Vingt-Trois, whose surname translates as 'twenty three' attended the famous Lycée Henri IV, regarded as one of the most demanding and prestigious sixth form colleges in France. He then went on to earn a degree in moral theology at the Institut Catholique de Paris.

Religious historian Odon Vallet, from Paris’s Sorbonne University believes Vingt-Trois has “his chances” thanks in part, to his education.

“A good education will count a lot, believe you me. Vingt-Trois is one of the favourites along with the archbishops of Milan( Angelo Scola), Vienna (Christoph Schörnborn) and Budapest (Peter Erdo) as well as the Patriarch of Venice (Francesco Moraglia).”

Not all theologians are positive about the chance of the next Pope being French.

Gilles Routhier, from Laval University in Quebec told The Local: "I think many of them [France's eight cardinals] would be too old now. Cardinal Vingt-Trois is very well-known within France, but they're not particularly prominent figures within the church. I would be surprised if any French cardinal became pope next."

If  the next Pope is not from France then there is still a good chance he could be a French speaker with Quebec’s Cardinal Marc Ouellet, 68, considered a strong candidate to fill Pope Benedict’s boots.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
French boat saves 217 people from sea off Libya
A makeshift boat filled with migrants spotted last month by an Italian Navy ship, in the Mediterranean sea near Lampedusa. Photo: Italian Navy

French boat saves 217 people from sea off Libya

A French navy ship sent to boost EU migrant patrols in the Mediterranean rescued 217 people Saturday off the coast of Libya, officials said. READ  

Charlie Hebdo says prize protesters are 'confused'
Charlie Hebdo's editor-in-chief, Gerard Biard(L) speaks as film critic, Jean-Baptiste Thoret, looks on. Photo: AFP

Charlie Hebdo says prize protesters are 'confused'

Two of the surviving journalists from French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo brushed off controversy over a literary award on Friday. READ  

Femen and her father ruin Le Pen's big day
Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP

Femen and her father ruin Le Pen's big day

Bare-chested Femen activists making Nazi salutes disrupted a speech by France's far-right leader Marine Le Pen for five minutes Friday at her National Front's traditional May 1st rally in Paris. READ  

Bolivia upholds French couple's murder ruling
Convicted killer Jaime Martinez (c). Photo: Aizar Raldes/AFP

Bolivia upholds French couple's murder ruling

A Bolivian court on Thursday upheld the 30-year prison sentence of a man convicted of killing a young French couple in 2010. READ  

Migrant camps emerge in the heart of Paris
Around 80 tents are home to around 250 migrants near La Chapelle Metro station. Photo: The Local

Migrant camps emerge in the heart of Paris

In recent weeks almost 500 refugees who have made their way to France via the notorious migrant boats across the Mediterranean have set up camp at two locations in the heart of Paris. But many tell The Local they have no plans of staying in the French capital. READ  

Eight charged in France for horsemeat trafficking
Eight people have been charged in France over horsemeat trafficking.

Eight charged in France for horsemeat trafficking

French authorities have charged eight people over their alleged role in a Europe-wide horsemeat trafficking ring dismantled last weekend, a judicial source said Thursday. READ  

Central African Republic
Hollande: 'No mercy' if troops guilty of rape
French soldiers on duty in Central African Republic are met by President Hollande. Some have been accused of raping young boys. Photo: AFP

Hollande: 'No mercy' if troops guilty of rape

UPDATED: France has denied any cover-up after allegations its soldiers raped young boys in the Central African Republic. Paris has opened up a formal investigation, with President Hollande promising "no mercy" if the troops are found guilty. READ  

France hits jackpot with Qatar fighter jet deal
France has struck a deal with Qatar for 24 Rafale fighter jets. Photo: AFP

France hits jackpot with Qatar fighter jet deal

French group Dassault Aviation is poised to sign a multi-billion-euro deal with Qatar for 36 of its Rafale fighter jets, the presidency and sources said Thursday, the third foreign order this year. READ  

French teen suicide after sex video web bullying
The girl was found dead on the ground outside her apartment. Photo: AFP

French teen suicide after sex video web bullying

A 15-year-old French girl has taken her own life after an intimate film featuring her and her boyfriend was shared online, leading to her being the victim of some vicious online bullying and blackmail. READ  

JobTalk France
May 2015: The best month to work in France
File photo of sunbathers at Trocadero, Paris. Photo: Pascal Pavani/AFP

May 2015: The best month to work in France

If you're working in France then there's no better month this year than May, when it comes to the number of public holidays at least. But as usual employers are trying to put an end to what they consider a colossal waste of time and money. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Five great outdoor bars in Paris to check out this summer
Society
French elevator protocol: Greeting, flirting and yes, even sex
National
What's on in France: Ten things to do in May
National
France goes on the defensive after UN experts say 'racism is trivialised'
Double standards? French Muslim barred from class over long skirt
Travel
Getting from CDG airport to Paris by road should now be a lot quicker
International
The French don't seem to care about the UK election and that's normal
France may produce the most wine, but who drinks the most?
National
Why do the French have such a sorry record for recycling?
7Up row could see French language enforced on all flights to Canada
Culture
Take a peek inside France's newest, but oldest tourist attraction
National
How to disguise the fact you are clearly not French
France desperately hunts for church terror plot accomplices
WARNING - When in France use first names with caution
Can France really protect 4,500 churches around the country?
So what does the world's oldest bubbly taste like?
British expats left in lurch by NHS clampdown
Tossing cigarette butts in Paris to prompt €68 fines
Culture
Cannes Film Festival reveals jury
Flamanville: France's nuclear 'calamity' that has the UK worried
Features
Forget the Mona Lisa, here's the weirdest objects you can see around Paris
For many Britons 'Waterloo' is just an Abba song or a train station
IN PICTURES: See the French ship 'Hermione' set sail again for the US
Opinion
Is it time the French scrapped tu and vous?
National
Marine Le Pen makes Time 'most influential' list
National
Sexual harassment rife on Paris trains
Cannes Film Festival line-up revealed
National
Cartoonist's book slams 'Islamophobia swindlers'
National
More French women than men lured by Isis
Society
Les Entrepreneurs: We chat with the founder of Paris Picnic
National
Edith Piaf celebrated at Parisian exhibit
National
Spain's newest export to France: Vultures
How the health reforms will change life in France
Gallery
Naked protests: The French love to take their clothes off to make a point
Travel
So why would anyone really want to live in Lille?
Opinion
Why the French should be very worried about new spying powers
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Then and now - the site of the Alps plane crash
International
Did the Pope reject France's envoy to the Vatican because he was gay?
Did a row over stolen veg lead to the murder of a British expat in France?
VIDEO: French rail chiefs SNCF furious after the Paris-Roubaix race
Sport
What the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris would look like
Culture
IN PICS: Take a look inside France's new 36,000 year-old tourist site
Cyberjihad: Hacking of French TV channel was 'a step up'
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

?>