• 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

After the shock decision by Pope Benedict XVI to renounce his place at the head of the Catholic Church, speculation has immediately turned to who will fill his position in the hot seat. Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, the Archbishop of Paris could be a strong outside bet.

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)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Assad using chemical weapons: Hollande
French President Francois Hollande pictured on April 20th 2014. AFP Photo: Thomas Samson

Assad using chemical weapons: Hollande

France has "information" but no firm proof that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime is still using chemical weapons, President Francois Hollande said Sunday. READ () »

PSG on course for double after cup triumph
PSG's galaxy of stars celebrate their French League Cup win over Lyon. AFP Photo/Franck Fife

PSG on course for double after cup triumph

Paris Saint-Germain won France's League Cup on Saturday, beating Lyon 2-1 in the final at the Stade de France to secure the first leg of a likely domestic double. READ () »

Freed journalists back on French soil
Francois Hollande welcomes French journalists Didier Francois, Edouard Elias, Nicolas Henin and Pierre Torres at the Villacoublay air base southwest of Paris. AFP Photo/Thomas Samson

Freed journalists back on French soil

Four French journalists taken hostage in Syria arrived home on Sunday to an emotional reunion with family and colleagues after spending 10 months in captivity in the world's most dangerous country for the media. READ () »

French reporters held captive in Syria set free
Didier Francois, Edouard Elias, Pierre Torres and Nicolas Henin. AFP Photo / Chris Huby/ Haytham Pictures/ Torres Family / Benoit Schaeffer

French reporters held captive in Syria set free

Four French journalists held captive in Syria for almost a year were free and "in good health" on Saturday, President Francois Hollande told AFP, saying they would be back in France within hours. READ () »

Euro hunt for French girl ends in her hometown
Europe-wide search for missing French girl ends in her hometown. Photo: AFP

Euro hunt for French girl ends in her hometown

A Europe-wide hunt for a missing 15-year-old French girl ended in her hometown on Friday where she was located with a 48-year-old family friend who was suspected of abducting her. Police believed the friend was suicidal. READ () »

French MP proposes puppy custody law
A French lawmaker wants puppies looked after in case of a divorce. Photo: Robbee/Flickr

French MP proposes puppy custody law

Who gets custody of a dog after a divorce? A French lawmaker has proposed a bill to create a legal framework to answer precisely that and other tricky questions surrounding pets. READ () »

Threat letter to French mosque praises far right
A mosque in the Paris suburbs has gotten a threat tied to the recent election of far-right National Front mayor. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Threat letter to French mosque praises far right

After pork products turned up in the mailbox of a suburban Paris mosque along with a threatening letter praising the town's recently elected far-right National Front mayor, muslims are concerned about a "worrying" local shift. READ () »

'Slavery' protesters slash hundreds of Velib' tires
Hundreds of Velib' bike tires slashed in 'slavery' protest. Photo: Cyril Folliot/AFP

'Slavery' protesters slash hundreds of Velib' tires

Far-left activists slashed the tires on over 360 Velib’ bikes in Paris this week in protest of the ‘slave’ labour the programme’s operator uses to repair vandalized bikes. The vandals could themselves end up 'slave' labour. READ () »

New scandal means more bad news for president
France's president was smacked with his administration's latest embarrassing scandal. Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP

New scandal means more bad news for president

The latest blow to struggling President François Hollande came on Friday when a close aide quit over allegations he'd used taxpayer money to support a posh lifestyle and appeared to have breached conflict of interest barriers. READ () »

French bank bosses to explain 'indecent' pay
France's economy minister wants bank bosses to explain their "indecent" pay. Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP

French bank bosses to explain 'indecent' pay

France’s economy minister, outraged by huge pay hikes the bosses of the country’s biggest banks have awarded themselves in the past year, called the chiefs to a meeting to “explain” their “indecent” pay. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
VIDEO: Take a look inside Paris’s first luxury hotel for cats
Education
French parents are the most laidback about their kids' education. True?
Tech
What do French TV viewers complain about the most? Yes it's English
Business & Money
French tax declarations: The key points to remember
Gallery
French slang: Everyday words you need to know (but use cautiously)
National
Paris cops told to ‘purge’ Roma from posh neighbourhood
International
VIDEO: ‘Anti-French’ Cadillac ad sparks anger in France. See why.
Features
Buying property in France? Here's 10 things you need to think about
National
What will the future map of France look like? The answer lies within.
Politics
'The 27 French regions aren't the problem, it's the 36,000 towns'
Culture
Ex underage call girl Zahia picked to embody Marie Antoinette
Gallery
Buying a house in France? Ten things you need to think about
Advertisement:
National
France bans work emails after 6pm! Sadly it's not quite true.
Opinion
Reader Rants: Why don't the French do charity? Is it down to taxes?
Society
VIDEO: The Paris zoo is back but this time the animals are in charge
National
This will be the most expensive road in France - Only €1.66bn for 12km!
Society
Only in France? Gourmet pensioners party lands village in hot water
National
What's the worst thing to do when you realise you're on the wrong train?
From showers to kissing: Anglos tell Twitter what's weird about France
National
'A big quake will hit France and there will be casualties' - Scientist warns
Culture
After all the dozens of books is France still worth writing about?
Sponsored Article
Why it pays to avoid banks when making overseas transfers
Opinion
Paris or the suburbs - where would you live?
National
VIDEO: Walk the line - crossing the Seine on a tightrope
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 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