For several years, the Vatican press corps has floated occasional rumors that Cardinal Ratzinger would soon resign as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Usually the rumors specify that his successor would be Cardinal Christoph von Schönborn, who now heads the Archdiocese of Vienna. The same rumors have popped up many times, so it's not stop-the-press news that they're circulating again.
However John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter-- who is a rock-solid reporter-- observes that there are other indications:
There have been signs that Ratzinger is winding down. The secretary of his congregation, Tarcisio Bertone, recently was named the archbishop of Genoa, while his longtime personal aide Josef Clemens recently became the under-secretary of the Congregation for Religious. It's a time-honored Vatican tradition for cardinals to make sure their key lieutenants are taken care of before the patron exits the stage.
In his "Word from Rome" column this week, Allen does not conclude that Cardinal Ratzinger is on his way out. But he does make a convincing case that we should Watch that Space.
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