Page 4, 25th March 1977

25th March 1977
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Page 4, 25th March 1977 — Odds shorten on another Italian Pope
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Locations: Rome, Turin, Milan, Florence

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Odds shorten on another Italian Pope

Correspondent

ALTHOUGH the next Conclave to elect a Pope will have a more international flavour than in the past, Vatican officials are of the opinion that the next Pope will again be an Italian.

If they are correct, there is a good chance that his —From Ft name might appear in a list of coming appointments to vacant Italian Sees. Several of the country's major dioceses, which have given the Church five of its six Popes this century, are awaiting new bishops.

Three of Italy's leading cardinals are about td leave their posts: Cardinal Michele Pellegrino of Turin told Catholics there

recently that he had submitted his resignation to Pope Paul. The 73-year-old progressive prelate, who prefers to be called "Father' and who has developed an extensive ministry to car workers in the city, is in bad health.

Florence's conservative bishop, Cardinal Ermenegildo Florit, was 75 last summer and has reportedly offered his resignation to the Pope, as all residential bishops reaching that age have been asked to do.

At the end of this year, a middle-of-the-roader, Cardinal Giovanni Colombo of Milan, will reach age 75 and presumably prepare his letter of resignation.

One Italian rumour says Cardinal Sergio Pignedoli, president of the Vatican's Secretariat for Non-Christians, will be appointed to Florence. This close friend of Pope Paul who some say is the Pope's personal choice as his successor, would stand a better chalice of being elected Pope after working for a lime in a major archdiocese.

The same people who see Cardinal Pignedoli in Florence predict that Rome's Vicar, Cardinal Ugo Poletti, will be sent to his native North as either Archbishop of Turin or Milan.

It is hard to say why, but Cardinal Poletti seems to have fallen into disfavour in Rome. Impeccable sources within the Rome diocese point out that the Cardinal-Vicar, who administers the See of Rome for Pope , Paul, played almost no role at all in the complex

Holy Places protest

The Moroccan, Egyptian and Lebanese ambassadors to the Vatican called on Mgr Bellini, Deputy Secretary of State, to express their governments' anxiety at the continued presence of Israel in the occupied territories in Palestine.

Mgr Bellini reaffirmed the Vatican's position in respect of the Holy Places and undertook to inform Pope Paul of the representations made by the ambassadors.

Simon Community pioneer dies

Pat McKeon, a vagrant alcoholic, died last week at the age of 60. He had been closely involved with Anton Wallich-Clifford in the setting up of the Simon Community and was one of the nine founder residents of the Sirnonwell Farm.

Six weeks ago he took part in a documentary made by an Irish television team who now plan to do a major documentary on him. reorganisation of his own diocese, which was solemnly made public by Pope Paul in January. Another possible successor for Turin or Milan, some Italians say, is 52-year-old Bishop Alberto Ablondi of Leghorn, a northerner who is popular and pastorally active. Some non-Italian observers see 5 4-year-old Bishop Clemente Rive., a Rosminian, as the perfect successor to Car-, dinal Pellegrino in industrial Turin. Bishop Riva, the Rome Auxiliary in charge of some of the city's poorest areas, is a bright, progressive man who deeply feels the need for bishops to work closely with

their priests and among the poor.

One of the important northern industrial cities could also go to a Sicilian. Cardinal Salvatore Pappalardo, 58, has proved himself to be a farsighted and tireless Archbishop of Palermo, a sprawling, decaying port city with all the numan problems of Milan or Turin. Some say there is an outside chance that the Papal Undersecretary of State, Archbishop Giovanni Benelli, might leave his key Vatican post to return to his native Tuscany as Archbishop of Florence.

Most agree, however, that he will stay on as right-hand man of Pope Paul. The Pope could hardly do without Archbishop BeneIli, who has a hand in almost every important Vatican decision, and in many minor ones as well.

Pressure to end SA loans

More than 100 shareholders including church bodies and religious orders are to renew pressure on the Midland Bank to end loans to South Africa at the banks annual meeting scheduled for April 20.

The Greater London Council who hold more than 250,000 Midland shares is the main sponsor of a resolution which calls on the bank to end all loans to the South African Government, its agencies and state corporations. A similar resolution at last year's annual meeting was defeated by 47 million to 3 million votes, but this year the number of shares held by the sponsors of the motion has increased five fold to nearly 1 million.

The sponsors claim that a number of other institutions, including a major insurance cornpany, a pension fund, five universities and colleges have agreed to support the resolution.

The banks annual report published last week includes both a statement from Illtyd Harrington, the GLC's deputy leader and from Lord Armstrong, the bank's chairman explaining Midland's policy of lending money to the South African Government.

Mr Harrington argued that an increasing number of individuals and institutions, both in this country and abroad, view bank loans to South Africa as direct and unequivocal support for apartheid and that recent and continuing racial disturbances in the country brought South Africa's long-term financial stability into question.

Lord Armstrong said that the question of a loan embargo on the South African Government was a political decision and thus a province of government and not of the bank. The Midland Bank followed normal banking practice in South Africa as they did in a number of countries wh-ere groups and individuals might have strong feelings about the governing powers, he said.

"In our opinion the only right and proper course is for us to observe a strict political neutrality in all our dealings, subject only to the relevant United Kingdom legislation," he said,




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