Action Alert!

Is Pope Benedict pointing toward his chosen successor?

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jun 28, 2011

If your local news outlets carry a story from the Vatican today, chances are good that it will be a human-interest story: an item about the Vatican’s embrace of the new communications technologies.

Today Pope Benedict became the first Roman Pontiff ever to “tweet.” And in doing so, he unveiled a slick new Vatican internet site, providing the latest news from the Holy See. If you’re looking for human-interest story, there it is.

But if you’re looking for more substantive news from Rome, today’s top CWN headline is a far more important story.

Ordinarily CWN doesn’t cover episcopal appointments. There are new bishops appointed every week, to dioceses all around the world. In most cases, these appointments will have little if any impact on the lives of our readers (except, of course, those who live in the dioceses affected). Today’s appointment of a new Archbishop of Milan is different. You don’t have to live in Milan—or in Italy—to feel the impact of this appointment.

As of today, Cardinal Angelo Scola’s name goes right to the top of the list of papabili: the prelates considered likely candidates for the papacy. As he made the appointment, Pope Benedict undoubtedly realized that it would be interpreted as a sign that he favored Cardinal Scola as his successor. We don’t know whether the Pope actually intended that message, but we do know that he did not shrink from sending it.

Yes, Pope Benedict sent a “tweet” today. But it wasn’t his most important message. 


Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: jeremiahjj - Jun. 28, 2011 8:40 PM ET USA

    You know what they say, Phil -- he who goes in passing out his white hat size comes out wearing the same hat he wore when he went in. Or something like that. Besides, Milan's not a bad see, Benedict XVI is healthy, and things can happen before the Holy Father passes on to his Great Reward.