He quotes Amy Winehouse and, unlike Benedict XVI, actually taps out his tweets himself. Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi is an erudite scholar with a modern touch — and that is seen by some as just the combination the Catholic Church needs to revive a church beset by scandal and a shrinking flock.
Benedict’s culture minister at the Vatican, Ravasi consistently makes the short lists of closely watched candidates to be the next pope. He is one of the favorites among Catholics who long to see a return to the tradition of Italian popes. The polyglot biblical scholar peppers speeches with references ranging from Aristotle to late British diva Winehouse.
At Benedict’s request, Ravasi led the pontiff and other Vatican prelates in daily Lenten meditation and prayer services during what turned out to be the pontiff’s last full week in the papacy. Ravasi’s words were podcast for all to hear on Vatican Radio, and the prelate tweeted in English and Italian to give the flavor of his sermons to those outside the Holy See’s inner circle. Ravasi’s foreign language prowess is reminiscent of that of the late globetrotting John Paul II: He tweets in English, chats in Italian and has impressed his audiences by switching to Hebrew and Arabic in some of his speeches. As a child, he taught himself ancient Greek.
Old wisdom: He enters conclave as Pope, but leaves as Cardinal.