Except in England, the Archbishop of Westminster has some real authority in speaking for the English Church. And in England, where they bet on everything (see Paddy Power for betting on the next Archbishop of Westminster and the next Archbishop of Canturbury of the Church of England), they discusses the strengths and weakness of possible successors quite publicly and quite frankly.
Paddy Power has also been making odds on who will be the next Pope probably since the day after Pope Benedict was elected by the Conclave.
There is an old/young split between the progressives and the conservatives in England just like here. Thompson, speaks for the conservatives who feel that English bishops are not particularly enamored of Pope Benedict and his decisions.
What is most interesting about the article is a paragraph relating to the decision making process. Thompson thinks that the Pope is not that all-powerful ruler that most non-Catholics believe he is. Catholics who know a little bit about the behavior of organizations probably would agree with Thompson. I don't think it selection procedures are too much different from those used when making appointments in the U.S. (from the rumors I have heard about appointments here).
The name of the next Archbishop of Westminster will be announced on January 2, according to a senior aide to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor.
I can't guarantee that he's right; I'm just passing on a piece of information from someone who ought to know. Alas, there was no hint as to who the Cardinal's successor will be.
The assumption in clergy circles is that the choice will be between Archbishop Nichols of Birmingham and Archbishop Smith of Cardiff. But - and I can hardly believe I am saying this - don't rule out a former champion figure skater who has plenty of admirers in Rome.
That'll be an interesting dilemma for me, won't it? +Arthur at Westminster. Common sense tells me that, whoever gets the job, I should be drawing a line under the past. But the goings-on in Leeds were truly disturbing: the dispossessed elderly people of suppressed parishes - whose requests for an interview with Bishop Roche went unacknowledged - are certainly finding it difficult drawing a line under them.
What we shouldn't expect, alas, is an outsider, an appointment that will mark a decisive break with the mediocrity of the past. The Pope is not a free agent; all but a few of his decisions are effectively made for him by institutional machinery operated by friends and allies of the Magic Circle. Senior clergy have been working overtime (and notching up air miles) to make sure that it will be business as usual after +Cormac steps down. And, crucially, they have the ear of the Nuncio.
But, as I was saying the other day, the culture of the Catholic Church is beginning to change. So, however unimaginative the appointment to Westminster, the new Archbishop will have to deal with younger laity and clergy who, while not rejecting Vatican II, look to the preconciliar Church for inspiration. Also, the consecration of England's first truly conservative (or radically orthodox) bishop can only be a matter of time. So, believe it or not, things will eventually get better. The Telegraph