Conclave by Robert Harris Read Free Book Online

Book: Conclave by Robert Harris Read Free Book Online
Authors: Robert Harris
old Paul, I’m afraid.’
    ‘Oh, I don’t mind him. We’ve been teasing one another for years.’
    And in an odd way Lomeli did feel almost nostalgic for the old brute. They were survivors together. This would be their third papal election. Only a handful of others could say the same. Most of those arriving had never participated in a Conclave before; and if the College chose a young enough man, most would never take part in one again. It was history they were making, and as the afternoon went on and they came up the slope with their suitcases, sometimes singly but mostly in groups of three or four, Lomeli was moved by how many of them were awed by the occasion, even those who tried to put on a show of nonchalance.
    What an extraordinary variety of races they represented – what a testament to the breadth of the Universal Church that men born so different should be bound together by their faith in God! From the Eastern ministries, Maronite and Coptic, came the patriarchs of Lebanon, Antioch and Alexandria; from India, the major archbishops of Trivandrum and Ernakulam-Angamaly, and also the Archbishop of Ranchi, Saverio Xalxo, whose name Lomeli took pleasure in pronouncing correctly: ‘Cardinal Khal-koh, welcome to the Conclave . . .’
    From the Far East came no fewer than thirteen Asianarchbishops – Jakarta and Cebu, Bangkok and Manila, Seoul and Tokyo, Ho Chi Minh City and Hong Kong . . . And from Africa another thirteen – Maputo, Kampala, Dar-es-Salaam, Khartoum, Addis Ababa . . . Lomeli was sure that the Africans would vote as a solid block for Cardinal Adeyemi. Halfway through the afternoon, he noticed the Nigerian strolling across the piazza in the direction of the Palace of the Holy Office. He returned a few minutes later with a group of African cardinals. Presumably he had met them at the gate. As they walked, he pointed out this building and that, in the manner of a proprietor. He brought them over to Lomeli for their official welcome, and Lomeli was struck by how much they deferred to Adeyemi, even the elderly grey-headed eminences like Zucula of Mozambique and the Kenyan, Mwangale, who had been around a lot longer.
    But to win, Adeyemni would need to pick up support from beyond Africa and the Third World, and that would be his difficulty. He might win votes in Africa by attacking, as he often did, ‘the Satan of global capitalism’ and ‘the abomination of homosexuality’, but he would lose them in America and Europe. And it was still the cardinals of Europe – fifty-six in all – who dominated the Conclave. These were the men Lomeli knew best. Some, like Ugo De Luca, the Archbishop of Genoa, with whom he had studied at the diocesan seminary, had been his friends for half a century. Others he had been meeting at conferences for more than thirty years.
    Arm in arm up the hill came the two great liberal theologians of Western Europe, once outcasts but lately awarded their red hats in a show of defiance by the Holy Father: the Belgian, Cardinal Vandroogenbroek (
aged 68, ex-Professor of Theology at Louvain University, advocate of Curial appointments for women, no-hoper
), and the German, Cardinal Löwenstein (
aged 77, Archbishop Emeritus ofRottenburg-Stuttgart, investigated for heresy by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1997
). The Patriarch of Lisbon, Rui Brandão D’Cruz, arrived smoking a cigar, and lingered on the doorstep of the Casa Santa Marta, reluctant to put it out. The Archbishop of Prague, Jan Jandaček, made his way across the piazza still limping as a result of his torture at the hands of the Czech secret police when he was working underground as a young priest in the 1960s. There was the Archbishop Emeritus of Palermo, Calogero Scozzazi, investigated three times for money-laundering but never prosecuted, and the Archbishop of Riga, Gatis Brotzkus, whose family had converted to Catholicism after the war and whose Jewish mother had been murdered by the Nazis.

Similar Books

Cryers Hill

Kitty Aldridge


Walter Dean Myers

One Blink From Oblivion

Mark Curtis Bullock

Othello Station

Rachael Wade


T. Styles

Seating Arrangements

Maggie Shipstead

The Curse of Europa

Brian Kayser


M. J. Abraham

Rock Me Slowly

Dawn Sutherland