Cover Story: The September Pope

John Paul I's sudden death stuns and saddens the Christian world

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SALVATORE PAPPALARDO, Archbishop of Palermo, 60. Regional jealousies are strong in Italy, even among Christian bishops. There has not been a Sicilian Pope in twelve centuries. But Salvatore Pappalardo could surmount that prejudice. A keen-minded Vatican diplomat who entered the Secretariat of State along with Giovanni Benelli, Pappalardo served early on as a secretary to Monsignor Montini, later Pope Paul VI. Eventually he became Paul's pronuncio to Indonesia, where the tropical climate sapped his health. Forced to return to Italy, he headed the school that trains Vatican diplomats. (His health is now fine.) In 1970 Paul named him to the See of Palermo. There he swiftly quieted a city badly divided among quarreling Mafia, Communist and Christian Democrat factions. He worked to aid emigrants' families and unemployed youth and—like Naples' Ursi —learned to live with a powerful Communist influence in the city. As a diplomat, Pappalardo pleaded for an end to "false nationalism" and for recognition that all nationalities are equal—a stand that may earn him support among Third World Cardinals.

GIOVANNI BENELLI, Archbishop of Florence, 57. As the Vatican's Substitute Secretary of State under Jean Cardinal Villot, Benelli was for a decade a power to be reckoned with by churchmen who wanted to see the Pope. Though he has befriended and backed pastoral Cardinals like Luciani and Pappalardo, Benelli had never held a pastoral post until Paul VI named him to the See of Florence in 1977. A brusque Tuscan with a deceptively cherubic face, Benelli has earned good marks during his 16 months in Communist-governed Florence. Even during his years as Pope Paul's front-office strong arm, he served as an able conciliator in several sharp internal church disputes. He has trouble delegating authority—a distinct problem for a Pope —and it is thought that he would oppose needed decentralization in the church. But his adroit leadership was apparent in his role as the principal supporter of the candidacy of John Paul. A Curia man himself, he opposed Curial candidates. Among the pastoral Italian archbishops he preferred Luciani for his personal qualities and antiCommunism. His connection with John Paul may help him in the voting.

If the Cardinals in conclave should move toward Benelli, they would be moving away from a pastoral choice and back toward Curial experience. If they choose to go in that direction, this time as in the last election they will have available a Curial man who also has far more pastoral background than Benelli —Sergio Cardinal Pignedoli, 68, the affable, gregarious president of the Secretariat for Non-Christians. In between rungs on his Curial career, Pignedoli served as a World War II chaplain (submarines) and auxiliary bishop of Milan (under Archbishop Montini). Young people love him and thousands write him letters about their problems. In the last election he ran close to Siri and Luciani on the first ballot. Also-ran status is a liability he shares with Sebastiano Cardinal Baggio, 65, prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, and Paolo Cardinal Bertoli, 70, a career Curialist, both of whom ran further back last time. Pignedoli has the best chance of the three.

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