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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Finding the new Pope on Google

Like many others last night I was left puzzled and bemused by the choice of the new Pope. To put it simply I had not heard of him and was left having to resort to search engines to discover more.

If Climate Change Minister' Greg Barker's account in today's Telegraph is to be believed however, I was not alone in this endeavour. Sometimes the Cardinals themselves know little or nothing about the candidates:

The Climate Change minister was seated beside Cardinal Peter Turkson at a dinner he attended last year as a member of the delegation that Baroness Varsi led to the Vatican to mark the 30th anniversary of full diplomatic links between Britain and the Holy See.

“I asked the cardinal if he had taken part in the vote for Benedict XVI and he said that he had, but, as a relatively new cardinal at the time from sub-Saharan Africa, he wasn’t altogether familiar with the form,” says Barker.

“It was explained to him that all the cardinals who were taking part in the vote would be given folders with information about the candidates to assist them as they made their choices. When he got his folders, he found, however, the barest biographical information in them, which wasn’t, really, a lot of help.”

So Barker wondered how Turkson, who has been talked about as a potential successor to Benedict XVI, managed to make his choice.

“Well, I digested what information I had, listened to the conversations that took place in the room at the Vatican the cardinals had, and then I got down on my knees in prayer to ask for guidance.

“And then I went online and looked up the main candidates to find out what I could about them.”

strange you should say that! He was the runner up in the last conclave, that's where I had heard of him. His reputation is that he lives humbly and authentically in a small flat, uses public transport, and does his own cooking. Only one blot, an accusation that he was involved in the "dirty war" in the 1970s, however Amnesty International said it was untrue, and may just be a smear. I think the general view was they wanted someone who was not a curia cardinal which Turkson certainly was but not a reflection on him, and I think a Latin American pope is quite appropriate.
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