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Cardinals Limbaugh and Bono Were Among Those Who Might Have Become Pope
THE VATICAN When white smoke rose from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, there were several disappointed Cardinals who badly wanted the Big Job. Insiders now reveal that the candidates who were strong contenders included:
* Cardinal Limbaugh of the US is the most conservative of the Cardinals and would have been most likely to follow the late Pope's doctrines against contraception and abortion. He is also an excellent public speaker, and would have had great appeal to a wide audience. However, he had a period of substance abuse that some other Cardinals found hard to forgive.
* Cardinal Bono of Ireland is considered something of a rock star among the Cardinals and has great appeal to young people. He had the advantage among the liberal Cardinals of having shown a commitment to world's poor, and also in knowing many world leaders. However, he often wore non-traditional clothing and played loud music which interfered with other Cardinals saying the rosary or watching TV.
* Cardinal Mugabe of Africa, where there is a growing Catholic population, is known to be not pro-life. He is a strong, some would say ruthless, leader who often kills off ideas he does not agree with. There was a drum beat of Third World Cardinals in his favor, but he had limited support from the Cardinals from old Europe.
* Cardinal Annan, also from Africa, is known for international affairs, but is rumored to be dating white women and is considered a weak administrator.
* Cardinal Chavez of Venezuela is a leader of the Catholic movement in Latin America, the fastest growing area for the Catholic Church. Considered a revolutionary by Church standards, he draws much appeal among the Cardinals for his anti-globalization position and his opposition to the US. However, he was seen as too young and hot-headed.
* Cardinal Berlusconi of Italy, the candidate of the largest block of Cardinals - the Italians - who badly wanted to return the Papacy to Italian hands, is a well-known fascist with television experience, a potentially advantageous combination. However, he was seen as too friendly to George Bush.
* Cardinal Chirac of France, well known for his opposition to George Bush, was a favorite of the European bloc because of his well known opposition to George Bush. However, the Germans did not want France to be seen as the leader of the European bloc, so they made sure their own Cardinal Joseph "Ratzo" Ratzinger got to count the ballots.
* Cardinal Rumsfeld of the US, who is a hawk, would have been most likely to give his blessing to wars in a just cause, something the late Pope did not do. An aggressive, internal fighter in church conclaves, he is a strong believer in his own intellect, even though he is usually wrong. He was seen as worse than Bush.
* Cardinal Powell of the US, an African-American, is known as a moderate, which doomed his chances among both conservatives and liberals. He also had a problem with misrepresenting the conclusions of a church study which said that there were hidden problems in a region of the church, when in fact there turned out to be none.
* Former Cardinal Clinton of the US, de-frocked over an alter-girl scandal, is known to be desperate to return to a high position in some church, any church! An attention seeker to a desperate degree, he remains a favorite among the liberals despite not having achieved much during his years as Cardinal.