By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Cardinals are supposed to be the papacy’s last line of defense, which means that conflicts between cardinals – especially in public, and especially over something as explosive as the sexual abuse crisis – are guaranteed to get the pope’s attention. This morning, Pope Benedict XVI essentially presided over a kiss-and-make-up session between two Princes of the Church: Cardinals Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, Austria, and Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals and the former Secretary of State under Pope John Paul II.
The pope and the two contending prelates were joined by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the current Secretary of State.
The Vatican issued an usually detailed statement in the wake of the meeting, but at first blush, it’s not clear whether the most serious substantive issue in Schönborn’s criticism of Sodano was resolved – or, for that matter, even addressed.