Edict of Milan

March 12 2013

1,700 years ago: February 313. The edict, if there was a formal one, followed the conversion of Constantine (Battle of the Milvian Bridge) in 312. It would be followed at the end of the century, after the interlude of Julian, by the proscription of paganism: Edict of Thessalonica, February 380, under Theodosius I.

So perhaps the Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Scola, will be pope in 2013. The other Italian “front-runner”, Cardinal Ravasi, is less likely. Cardinal Ouellet, a Canadian, is possible and knows Latin America. But, as a friend of mind points out, Canadians are too normal. Cardinal Schoenborn, Archbishop of Vienna, who looks like Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, would be a natural successor to Benedict XVI. An American pope, in the shape of Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, or anyone else, is somehow unthinkable. One hears so much secular piety from Americans, and religion from lay Americans, that it would be too much.

Aren’t the other non-Europeans – Cardinal Scherer, Archbishop of São Paulo; Cardinal Sandri, an Argentinian; Cardinal Turkson, a Ghanaian; Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila; Cardinal Braz de Aviz, the other Brazilian – less likely than the Europeans and Canadian? But if anyone from this group, perhaps the Ghanaian is the most likely.

The words “Extra omnes” remind one of the days of I’m All Right, Jack.

The other symmetry with 313 would be to have an African pope, Cardinal Turkson, since the pope when the Edict of Milan was proclaimed was “African”: Pope Miltiades. The other two Africans have been Victor I (late second century) and Gelasius I (late fifth).

2 Responses to “Edict of Milan”

  1. davidderrick Says:

    I met on several occasions an eminent English Catholic woman who once disappeared to Africa “to look for the black pope”. Interpol were looking for her.


    The Sun headline tomorrow will probably be be “Godcha!”

    For 2,800 Falkland islanders, his election must be reassuring, by feeding Argentinian national pride.

    Jesuits have a track record as protectors of indigenous people in S America against colonial authorities.

    Not all Argentinians like to think of themselves as “developing world” (BBC phrase today).

    Argentina recognises same-sex marriage.

    For a billion notional Catholics, his provenance should be irrelevant, but if the office is going to be given to non-Europeans, Argentina is the whitest country outside Europe from which he could have come.

    We do now have an American pope, when you think about it. Born in Argentina, ethnically Italian. Exit Bolivarian presidente, enter pope.

  2. davidderrick Says:

    There are two monarchies today that the world seems to care about: the British and the Roman.

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