ROMA, April 7, 2005 -- The cardinals who will elect his successor know one thing about John Paul II: he was one of a kind.
But what troubles them is not the limitless force of the image he projected during a pontificate almost 27 years long. The next pope would never dare to compete with him on this terrain. Like dwarves on the shoulders of a giant, the heads of the Church make use of pope Karol Wojtyla's media masterwork as if it were a treasury to be drawn from.
Thanks to him, the Roman Church has claimed the center of the world stage, and the Church wants to remain there after Wojtyla, lively and active, stripped of the old rags of temporal power but rich in the word that comes from on high, with the intimate knowledge of humanity that comes from preserving and bearing witness to the Gospel.
And in fact, the most learned and authoritative cardinals of Rome, from Joseph Ratzinger to Camillo Ruini -- the same ones in whom John Paul II placed his highest trust -- have in recent months produced more analyses of religious geopolitics than ever before, sparing no effort to outline the present and future scenarios of the Church and the world.
Ratzinger, in fact, did so on Friday, April 1, while John Paul II was in the thick of his agony. He spoke at a conference at Subiaco, the cradle of Western monasticism and the home of Saint Benedict, father and patron of Europe.
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