Errors In ‘The Next Pope’ by Peter Hebblethwaite.

by Anura Guruge


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‘The Next Pope’ by Peter Hebblethwaite

(revised and edited by Margaret Hebblethwaite)
 ISBN: 0-06-063777-3, 2000



Page 4: “Moreover, conclaves did not happen in the Sistine Chapel until after the collapse of the Papal States in 1870.”

Ah! I have tried to parse that statements all which ways until Christmas to see if I was missing something here. But, I am sure it says what it says!

Yes, the 1846, 1831, 1829 & 1823 conclaves were held at the Quirinal Palace and the 1800 conclave in Venice.  But the prior 38 conclaves, going back to 1484, were centered around the Sistine. During the first twelve of these, 1484 to 1559, all the cardinals were even billeted inside the Sistine. Thus, in my opinion, that statement is dead wrong.


Page 27: “In the first millennium, popes did not emerge from the college of cardinals, since the cardinals in the modern sense did not exist.”

Ah! Well YOU could play games with the caveat ‘modern sense,’ and say that the ‘College’ didn’t come to be until 1148-1150. But even with that, the spirit of this sentence is SO WRONG. Let us just refer to the 769 Roman Synod convened by Stephen III (IV) and its stipulation that popes must be elected from among cardinal priests and cardinal deacons.


Page 165: “… William Wakefield Baum …, he is the only U.S. cardinal to have ever voted in a conclave — in fact two — having become a cardinal in 1976.”

That ‘ever’ in front of ‘voted’ makes this statement false as it stands. If the caveat ‘living’ is added after the ‘only’ this would work (given that this book was published in 2000). The way it reads is misleading and wrong. James Gibbons voted in the 1903 conclave. John Murphy Farley voted in the 1914 conclave etc. Eight US cardinals participated in the August 1978 conclave and nine in the October 1978 conclave. This should have been caught by an editor. But maybe this book was not edited. That would explain all these fundamental errors.


Page 139: “And after all, the pope lives in Italy …”

This is is post-1929. The pope lives in the sovereign city-state of Vatican City — with even Castel Gandolfo falling within the extraterritorial bounds of the Vatican City. This was obviously meant to be a ‘cute’ statement, but it is inappropriate, misleading and worst of all, wrong.


Page 57: Talking about the voting process says “… the whole process is repeated …”

Not so. The second ballot of each morning and afternoon session is different from the first. For a start there is no need to elect new Scrutineers, Infirmarii and Revisers, or to take a new oath.


Page 32: There is a poem here by the Polish poet Juliusz Slowacki, prefaced by a claim that it forecasts that there would be a Slavic pope [i.e., John Paul II] in the 20th century.

I think it is more than a stretch to make that claim. It sure says, in the first line “… will not — Italian-like — take fright.” Yes, the poet was Polish. But that doesn’t mean that any non-Italian has to be Slavic. This one is not as grave as the prior two, but it still gave me pause. 


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by Anura Guruge

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About Anura Guruge

See 'The Blogger' on my https://nhlifefree.com/ blog.

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