• France edition
 
Can this French cardinal become the next Pope?
Andre Vingt-Trois ponders an answer during a conference in November. Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP

Can this French cardinal become the next Pope?

Published: 11 Feb 2013 19:09 GMT+01:00
Updated: 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
Paris Fashion Week: Five trends to emerge
Was Mexican wrestling-style masks one of the trends to emerge from the Paris Fashion Week? Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Paris Fashion Week: Five trends to emerge

Didn't manage to get a seat by the catwalk during this year's Paris Fashion week? No need to worry, here's five trends that emerged from the catwalks this week. READ  

Better to grow old in the UK and US than France?
Is it really better to grow old in the US and the UK than France? Plenty would disagree. Photo: Jazz Beaunola/Flickr

Better to grow old in the UK and US than France?

A new global study concludes pensioners have a better quality of life in the US and the UK than in France. This may come as a surprise to the thousands of retired expats who came to France to settle. So is the study wrong and where would you rather grow old? READ  

Paris tourism
Louvre and Versailles to open seven days a week
The Louvre in Paris will be open seven days a week in future. As will Versailles and the Musée d'Orsay.

Louvre and Versailles to open seven days a week

Three of France's most famous museums and art galleries - the Louvre, the Palace of Versailles and the Musee d'Orsay - will soon be open seven days a week, the government revealed on Wednesday. Many visitors may be surprised they aren't already open all week-round. READ  

Profile - A French 'executioner'?
Pot-smoking Frenchman is Isis 'executioner'
An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube allegedly shows members of a Jihadist group affiliated to the jihadist group Isis. Photo: AFP

Pot-smoking Frenchman is Isis 'executioner'

The man accused by the US State department of carrying out executions for the Islamist extremist group Isis was a "fun-loving" Frenchman who enjoyed smoking weed and going out clubbing, according to this report. READ  

First ever class action lawsuit filed in France
A property management company is the target of France's first ever class action suit. Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP

First ever class action lawsuit filed in France

On the same day class action lawsuits became legal in France, a consumer watchdog group filed one of the collective proceedings against the country’s biggest landlord over the "illegal" fees it charges renters. READ  

French cops revoke Le Pen's driving license
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen has had her driver's license revoked. Photo: Patrick Kovarik/AFP

French cops revoke Le Pen's driving license

French far-right politician Marine Le Pen had her driver’s license revoked after picking up one too many speeding tickets, it was revealed this week. It's also been claimed she recently moved house after one of her dad's dogs killed one of her beloved Bengal cats. READ  

Photo of the Day
Jay Z and Beyonce bump into Sark-O at the footy
"Don't laugh Jay-Z, I really am going to make a comeback Jay -Z". Photo: Franck Fife/AFP

Jay Z and Beyonce bump into Sark-O at the footy

Jay Z and his wife Beyonce were the surprise celeb guests at PSG's Champions League clash with Barcelona in Paris on Tuesday night where they bumped into the former French president Nicolas Sarkozy. But what could Sarkozy be saying here to the US rapper? READ  

Suspects identified in Frenchman's beheading
A photo paying homage to French tourist Hervé Gourdel who was beheaded in Algeria. Photo: Jean-Christophe Magnenet/AFP

Suspects identified in Frenchman's beheading

Some of the suspects in the kidnapping and beheading of French tourist Hervé Gourdel in Algeria have been identified, a minister in the north African country said on Tuesday. READ  

French Budget 2015
Budget 2015: €21 billion savings plus tax cuts
Protesters in France make their feelings clear about the government's efforts to balance the books. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

Budget 2015: €21 billion savings plus tax cuts

France's eagerly awaited 2015 budget was revealed on Wednesday which includes €21 billion of savings, a hike in the tax on diesel fuel as well as income tax cuts. The country's deficit would be brought in line with EU rules by 2017. READ  

PSG 3 - Barcelona 2
PSG's Blanc: 'We do our job for nights like this'
PSG's Blaise Matuidi leads the celebrates after his team's famous victory over Barcelona on Tuesday night. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP

PSG's Blanc: 'We do our job for nights like this'

French champions Paris Saint-Germain earned a historic victory against Spanish giants Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday night. Here's all the reaction from PSG's delighted coach Laurent Blanc and his counterpart at Barca Luis Enrique. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Culture
Caption contest: What happened when Jay Z met Sark O?
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Marks and Spencer: Win €300 toward your new autumn wardrobe
International
This explains why the French never seem to get a sense of déjà vu?
National
VIDEO: Here's a view from the Eiffel Tower you haven't seen before
Travel
Do Paris's iconic rooftops deserve Unesco World Heritage status?
Opinion
'France cannot reform, the pilots' strike showed us this'
National
'We just don’t work hard enough in France.' Is that true?
International
France has moved to beef up security in various public places
National
Hiking naked in France does not come risk-free
Culture
10 French customs that confuse Anglos
National
IN PICTURES: A look inside France's 'most notorious' prison
International
Isis urges killing of 'spiteful, dirty' French
National
Paris installs new device to stop 'love lock' craze
National
Paris cabby dies in vicious high-heel attack
National
'Paris is a sexy city, its beauty is inspiring'
Culture
Depardieu: ‘I drink 14 bottles of booze a day’
National
Top French chefs want banned bird on menu
National
VIDEO: Making of French rugby hunk calendar
National
Ten great bars in Paris only locals know about
Society
France's top expat tribes: Which are you?
National
France to set flat-rate for Paris airport taxis
Politics
French separatists want Scots to say 'yes'
National
Anti-dog poo offensive launched in French town
National
Scammers attack Paris's top cop at tourist hotspot
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