The “sin of pride,” “Lombard humor”... the Italian religious media are making a big fuss about the latest speech by the Archbishop of Milan, ironically about the Pope's choice of one of his lowly suffragans, as cardinal of the Holy Church.
The pill is perhaps more bitter for him than the waters of Mara were for Moses and the Hebrew people... On this last day of August 2022, at the end of the pontifical Mass celebrated by the new Cardinal Oscar Antoni, Bishop of Como, the patriarch of Milan made a remarkable speech, to the point that ears were burning all the way over at St. Martha’s House.
And for good reason, Msgr. Mario Delpini, Archbishop of Milan, is absolutely furious at having seen the simple bishop of Como set above himself – what is more, one of his suffragans – to receive the honors of the cardinal purple. A snub by the Argentine pontiff that the high Lombard prelate could not pass up.
“There are somewhat irreverent people who have wondered why the pope did not choose the metropolitan to be cardinal and chose the bishop of Como instead.”
“Of course, interpreting the Holy Father’s though is always a bit difficult, because of that very lofty expression of ancient wisdom which says that, ‘there are three things that not even God the Father knows: one is the number of female religious congregations; two is how much money they have; and the third is what the Jesuits think,’” Msgr. Delpini began ironically, as a Siberian cold settled in the Como Cathedral.
But the irony quickly turned to sarcasm: “For my part, I found three reasons why the Holy Father opted for the Bishop of Como: the first is that the pope must have thought that the Archbishop of Milan already has a lot to do, he is overloaded with work, and therefore he thought of giving a little of the work to the Bishop of Como.”
“The second reason is that the pope said to himself: ‘those braggarts of Milan do not even know where Rome is, so it's better not to involve them too much in the government of the universal Church!”
“And perhaps there is also a third reason. If I remember correctly, the pope is a fan of Atletico River (an Argentinian football club) who has never won anything, and perhaps he thought that those from Como would be on the same wavelength, because you know that the Scudetto is in Milan.”
And as if that were not enough, the Archbishop of Milan, concludes by further spinning the footballing metaphor, not without humor, “to return to football, it seems to me that the pope is suggesting to the new cardinals: ‘be fans of the teams that lose,’ that is, stay on the side of the weakest, the poorest.”
The Bishop of Como cuts a good figure, listening to his colleague with a big smile: Msgr. Cantoni knows that the sense of humor of the Archbishop of Milan – with whom he has a long-standing friendship – is very acidic.
And after all, the Lombard arrow is mainly being fired in the direction of St. Martha’s House, so it is better to lower your head to avoid it, and stay out of the line of fire.