Among the names most frequently mentioned as a possible new pope, one stands out: Angelo Cardinal Scola, the Archbishop of Milan.
Born in 1941, Scola holds two doctorates, both in philosophy (the second, earned after his ordination, on Aquinas). He has taught philosophy and moral theology, with an emphasis upon theological anthropology, and served as rector of the Lateran University in Rome. He has published many books and over 120 journal articles. His academic influences include Hans Urs von Balthazar, Henri de Lubac and (inevitably, we suppose) Joseph Ratzinger. Liberals may want to take note that much of his writing has been devoted to questions of "the family," which in Roman Catholicism is an important but sharply limited concept. His farewell address at the Lateran University, on "the nuptial mystery," is an extremely impressive theological essay, but also contains a nuance-free condemnation of birth control. Of course.
Scola is not a deeply experienced pastor, but an expert administrator. Although his parish tenure does not appear to have been long at all -- a few years in the early 1970s -- he served as Bishop of Grosseto from 1991-95, and Patriarch of Venice from 2002-11, before the promotion to Milan.
He has also written on the subject of Islam, and in 2004 initiated the Oasis Foundation, "to encourage mutual understanding and opportunities for encounter between the Western world and the majority Muslim world." On one hand, knowledge of the world's other dominant religion is a good thing. On the other hand, we would like to know more about his thoughts on the subject.
Not to engage in guilt by association, but we are worried about Scola's friends. According to his Wikipedia entry (sorry!), Scola was championed as a potential pope in 2005, by Srda Trifkovic, in the pages of the palaeo-con journal Chronicles. We can't find the article, so we don't know just what Trifkovic said, but we are still concerned by this. Trifkovic is deeply engaged in anti-Muslim rhetoric, and has also been accused of anti-semitism.
Those who would like to explore Scola's public statements may do so easily at angeloscola.it.