Tags: Vatican | Watchers | Say | Tettamanzi | Front-Runner

Vatican Watchers Say Tettamanzi Front-Runner

Sunday, 17 April 2005 12:00 AM

In fact, European bookmakers give odds in favor (5-2) of Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, archbishop of Milan.

Tettamanzi - whose name means in Italian "bull's tit" - is viewed as a conservative in matters of doctrine and liberal on issues like the environment.

Italian popes held court in the Vatican for 455 years before Poland's Karol Wojtyla surprised Vatican watchers with his election in 1978.

Now some believe that many Italian cardinals will rally behind Tettamanzi, who once headed the Italian conference of bishops.

And the Italian prelates have lots of clout: There are 20 Italian cardinals eligible to vote, making them the largest single national group, leading the 11 U.S. electors and six each from Germany and Spain.

Moreover, the Italian influence is bolstered by the fact that another 19 foreign cardinals are stationed at the Vatican in Rome, where the working language and way of doing business are Italian.

Tettamanzi has a handicap - he does not speak English or Spanish - but he has the backing of the wily Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, 71, head of the Congregation of Bishops and master of the Vatican bureaucracy.

He is also liked by Opus Dei, a church order that carries great weight with many cardinals.

Some believe John Paul II saw Tettamanzi as a possible successor when, in 2002, he was made Archbishop of Milan, one of the world's biggest archdioceses with 1,000 parishes and almost 5 million followers.

Cardinal Tettamanzi is described by the Australian as an academic and former seminary rector who helped John Paul II to write some of his encyclicals on bioethics and sexual morality. He is a theological conservative but a foe of globalization, speaking out powerfully on behalf of anti-globalization protesters.

His action in that effort, defending the protesters during the violent disruption of the G-8 summit in Genoa in 2001, raised the eyebrows of many of his colleagues.

Tettamanzi is 71, an age considered ideal for a new pope. It is thought that the cardinals will not want to elect another young man likely to reign for years, as did John Paul II.

On the other hand, another leading candidate, Joseph Ratzinger, who turned 78 on Saturday, is probably too old.

If Ratzinger doesn't win the vote, it is believed his supporters may turn to Tettamanzi as a compromise.

Another Italian as an outside candidate is the former Archbishop of Bologna, Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, who at 76 remains influential in Vatican circles.

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In fact, European bookmakers give odds in favor (5-2) of Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, archbishop of Milan. Tettamanzi - whose name means in Italian "bull's tit" - is viewed as a conservative in matters of doctrine and liberal on issues like the environment. Italian...
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2005-00-17
Sunday, 17 April 2005 12:00 AM
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