W111., GREAI. Britain produce a Pope in the foreseeable future – the first since Hadrian IV (1154-9) (if you except the case of Pope Joan, who might have been English but, of course, might have not been Pope)?
I can reliably report that the chances are quite strong and can confidently present the following scenario as a distinct probability. There have been soundings as to whether Fr Timothy Radcliffe, Master General of the Dominican Order, could become the next Bishop of Arundel and Brighton. This has emerged as a strong possibility, though the appointment would have to wait until his term as Dominican Master General is finished, or nearly over.
A year, more or less, however does not matter in this case. The distinguished and popular Archbishop Emeritus Maurice Couve de Murville of Birmingham is living in the diocese and performing episcopal functions as need arises. Everything can go on safely as it is for the time being.
This could mean that when the next Papal Conclave but one comes round, Fr Radcliffe could, having become Archbishop of Westminster, be going to Rome as a cardinal. He would be better known in Rome, for his outstanding worldwide achievements, than possibly any other candidate for the papacy.
Such an election could do wonders for the Church at such a junctilLe. The importance, if for no. other reason, of an English-speaking Pope would be immense at a time when English is spoken by more people in the world than its entire Catholic population.
There is another reason, taken from history, why an English Pope could be a providential blessing for the Church at this time. We are living, it has been said, through a time of revolution in almost every department of life. The world around us is changing with bewildering speed and, accompanying the technological miracles, the general tendency is toward the abandonment of faith toward secularism and a materialist society.
What is therefore needed , as is claimed by the same observers, is a counter-revolution on the part of the Church, just as it needed a CounterReformation in the troubled times of the 16th century.
0 NE OF the tragedies of the Counter-Reformation period was the failure of a certain great Englishman, Reginald Pole to become Pope. Pole, (whose name, curiously, is pronounced Pool) lived from 1500 until 1558. He was England's last Archbishop of Canterbury while the Church in England still owed allegiance to Rome. His death occurred in the same year that Queen Elizabeth I came to the throne.
Reginald Pule was an extremely distinguished, exceptionally attractive, and thoroughly diplomatic churchman. At the Conclave of 1550, he failed by one vote to achieve election as Pope. Even after the security in which he so narrowly failed to secure the necessary majority, he could still have become Pope had he fallen in with a scheme proposed in his favour.
There was a deadlock between the French and Farnese factions, complicated by the attempts of Emperor Charles V to influence events. The scheme in favour of Pole, with his reputation still standing high, was to convene a hasty emergency midnight session of the cardinals, who, it was planned, would be taken by surprise by the confident presentation of Pole as a candidate and would immediately elect him.
They probably would have done so had this propitious moment been seized. But Reginald Pole himself would have none of it. He would not, he asserted, agree to becoming Pope "by the back door".
As it was, Giovanni Ciocchi del Monte became Pope as Julius H. He could hardly have been more different from Reginald Pole. Thus the Church still awaits its English Pope.