Pope Benedict XVI might be off – but his conservative allies are still there

Of the 120 electors who get to vote 67 of them have been appointed by Benedict

As speculation mounts over who will be the new leader of the world’s 1.2billion Catholics, Pope Benedict XVI has stressed that he will play no part in the appointment of his successor.

But in reality he doesn’t need to whisper in the ears of fellow Cardinals to ensure a replacement that he might approve of. Over the past seven years, the German-born pontiff has packed the body charged with electing his replacement with like-minded social conservatives who espouse Benedict’s religious orthodoxy and are equally suspicious of their liberal counterparts who say the Catholic Church desperately needs radical reform.

Of the 120 cardinal electors who will get to cast their vote under the frescos of the Sistine Chapel next month, Benedict has named 67 of them. The other 53 were named by his predecessor. Only Cardinals under the age of 80 are allowed to vote for a new pontiff at the papal conclave and, because Cardinals tend to be elderly when they reach such a high position, there is an inevitably high turn-over in the elective body. So although Ben-edict’s reign was just a quarter of the length of John Paul II’s, he has significantly more allies than his predecessor.

The Catholic Church is heading into uncharted waters. The College of Cardinals hasn’t had to elect a Pope while another was still alive in more than 600 years and, though Benedict has insisted he will remain above politics, many commentators have suggested the electors will inevitably feel pressured to vote for a pontiff that Benedict would approve of.

As John Allen, a seasoned Vatican analyst, wrote in yesterday’s National Catholic Reporter: “At least some cardinals may feel special pressure not to do anything that would be perceived as a repudiation of Benedict’s papacy, or that they suspect would cause him consternation.”

Benedict’s Cardinal appointments have not been without controversy. A number of American media outlets – including Catholic ones – have reacted with outrage that Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahoney, who was removed from public duties last week over allegations that he helped cover up sexual abuse charges against a priest, will be one of those who gets to vote for Benedict’s successor.

During his tenure, Benedict was criticised for regularly promoting fellow conservatives to Cardinal with a distinctly pro-European bias, despite the vast majority of the globe’s Catho-lics living in the developing world.

Outside of Europe, Benedict has favoured fellow conservatives with strong track records of speaking out against traditionalist red lines such as homosexuality, contraception, abortion and secularisation. New York’s ultra-conservative Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s star, for example, has risen considerably under Benedict because he is so eloquent at attacking the Obama administration on such traditionalist issues.

In an attempt to stave off these criticism that he was too Euro-centric, late last year Benedict appointed five developing world cardinals from India, Nigeria, the Philippines, Lebanon and Colombia. But the new appointments – such as Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila and Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja – are renowned for their hard line opposition to key developing world issues like contraception and gay rights.

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
News
Russia's President Vladimir Putin gives his annual televised question-and-answer session
peopleBizarre TV claim
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
VIDEO
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
Arts & Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'
tv
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit