Italian bishops were quick to congratulate the new pope. Too quick – they got the wrong man.
The Italian Bishops’ Conference yesterday sent a congratulatory email to one of their own, Milan Cardinal Scola – tipped as a hot conclave favourite.
They had to quickly correct themselves and issue a new message to the real winner, Argentine Jorge Bergoglio.
Conventional wisdom had it that a quick result – and this conclave was quick, with the white smoke coming on just the second day – could only mean consensus had built around a top name.
Churches in Milan also seem to have got it wrong: They sent bells pealing shortly before the announcement “Habemus Papam!” – “We have a pope!”
Once again, the old adage holds: Enter the conclave a pope, leave a cardinal.