Cardinal Ravasi: Intellectual who quotes Winehouse

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.

That old adage bore true for the conclaves of 1958 and 1978 when outsider Cardinals Roncalli and Wojtyla were elected, however it didn’t for the conclaves of 1939, 1963 & 2005 when frontrunners among the papabili Cardinals Pacelli, Montini and Ratzinger won.

The interesting thing though is that in 1939, 1963 & 2005 those cardinals were the clear frontrunners. There is no clear frontrunner in this particular conclave, just a smattering of touted papabili largely on an equal footing.

This conclave is thus to be compared to the conclaves of 1958 and 1978, meaning that an outside candidate could very truly be elevated, especially if voting blocs for popular candidates such as Ravasi, Scola or Ouellet are divided and cannot reach a consensus, leading to a compromise candidate (as with Roncalli, John XXIII), or perhaps a daring decision (as with Wojtyla, John Paul II).

The lack of a clear frontrunner and the peculiar circumstances (Benedict’s resignation) make this conclave by far the most interesting one for a very long time.

How did he quote Amy Winehouse?

Actually the 1978 conclaves had favorites - two of them, Siri and Benelli. But because it was so clearly split between Liberals and Conservatives, in both cases they went with a compromise candidate (Luciani and Wyotila). I agree this conclave is most like 1958 - although maybe even unique in its own right, since the debate is likely to be over priorities, rather than philosophy.

That’s exactly what I am saying the 1978 conclave had favourites but no single, clear frontrunner as with the 1939, 1963 & 2005 conclaves. Everyone knew Pacelli and Montini would become pope. In 2005 most people knew that even with his advanced age Ratzinger was the top-dog candidate.

In 1978 there were two favourites. In this conclave Scola, Ravasi & Ouellet are probably the favourites, along with a smattering of other papabili.

This makes it very similar to 1958 and 78.

In 78, we had a surprise conclave because of the death of newly elected Pope John Paul I that same year.

In 2013 we have another surprise conclave because of Benedict’s resignation.

In other conclaves there was a long period of visible decline in the Holy Father, a health crisis.

In 1978 and now in 2013 we have surprise, strange occurences leading to the conclave.

I do agree though that 1958 would probably be the most similar to the 2013 conclave but also that it is utterly unique too, like nothing we’ve really seen before.

I agree, although the two leading candidates to become Pope – Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan and Cardinal Marc Ouellet – are both theologians who served on the editorial board of Communio.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, a popular but outside candidate because of his youth and lack of curial experience (because he is from the Phillipines and a new cardinal), is also a theologian described by one commentator as having a “theologian’s mind, a musician’s soul and a pastor’s heart”.

Given that Benedict XVI was a theologian and Blessed John Paul II a gifted philosopher, I notice a trend in recent papal elections. They have seemed to go for intellectual chops - theology, philosophy whereas in previous papacies it was more diplomacy they went for and/or pastoral experience.

We Catholics since 1978 have grown used to having a pope with theological/philosophical genius. I would miss that if a candidate was chosen more for his administration abilities at reforming the curia.

What do you think, will that trend stop now? :shrug: Will curial reformer, management skills and ability to deal with the sex abuse scandal be the main “priorities”?

I personally hope for a balance. I mean, a holy, intellectual pope could delegate a mop-up of the curia to an insider ie by appointing as an executive in this matter, or perhaps we’ll be lucky and get a pope who combines good admin skills with theology/philosophy!

why would he?

This was addressed to Cardinal Ravasi

The Lord will know, venerable brother, how to repay you for this task that you have so brilliantly carried out. For my part I assure you an always grateful remembrance in prayer for your person and for your ecclesial service, while with affection I renew the apostolic benediction, gladly extending it to those who are dear to you.

From the Vatican, February 23, 2013


full text in link below

If he is held in such high esteem, then really, what significance does an article that makes so much of a quote really have?


I think it’s absolutely going to be about priorities (and urgencies).

That does not exclude a candidate who also happens to be an intellectual.

Well put.:thumbsup:

I trust that a perceived “intellectual” will be just as welcome a choice, too.

In fact, it is hard to think of a cardinal that could not be said to be intellectual as much as they are spiritual.

Of course the media might be up to their usual labelling/ptting-in-boxes tricks.

How the media despise scholars:(

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