The first is what we might call the “governance camp,” meaning cardinals who believe that the internal administration of the church, beginning with the Vatican itself, suffered during the Benedict years. In general they don’t blame Benedict as much as the people around him, beginning with Bertone.
This governance camp will be looking for a pope more inclined to take the reins into his own hands, or at least to be savvier about appointing aides with a capacity to make the trains run on time.
In the past, when cardinals would talk about “governance” it was often code for an Italian pope, on the assumption that Italians carry a special gene for ecclesiastical administration. The recent Vatileaks scandal, however, seemed to highlight the worst of petty Italian squabbles, and may have taken the edge off the preference for an Italian candidate.
Second, there’s the “pastoral camp,” meaning cardinals looking for a less ideologically defined pontiff, one with the capacity to heal internal rifts, such as the recent priests’ rebellion in Austria, and to take a new look at thorny issues such as Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics.
Whenever you hear a cardinal over the coming days proclaim that the church needs a “pastoral” pope, as Italian Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo did Feb. 16, saying that’s what the time demands rather than a Vatican bureaucrat, this is the sort of thing they often have in mind.
Another force is the “Third World camp,” meaning a bloc that believes it’s time for the church to elect a pope who can put a face on the burgeoning Catholic footprint outside the West.
It’s not just the Third Worlders themselves beating the drum.
“When you just look at the statistics, two-thirds of the church is outside the West. That’s a movement we must become aware of,” Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of the United States said in a Feb. 14 interview with NCR. McCarrick is already over 80, and is thus ineligible to vote in the conclave, but will participate in the deliberations leading up to it.
On a related note, many cardinals identify the relationship with Islam as a critical priority for the next pope, and some believe a candidate with deep personal experience of living cheek by jowl with Muslims might fit the bill.
Finally, there’s what might be defined as the “evangelical camp,” meaning cardinals looking for intellectual continuity with the teaching of Benedict’s papacy but perhaps a slightly more popular touch and a deeply missionary orientation.
The need to build consensus may augur a search for a candidate who appeals to several of these groups.
As veteran Italian Vatican-watcher Andrea Tornielli has written, “This time around it could be truly complicated to get to the white smoke.”
Me? I’m in the Evangelical camp.