The US diplomatic brain trust was utterly shocked by the election of the elderly, conservative Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as pope in 2005.
The document, which was classified as “sensitive”, described the next Pope as a man who was neither too old nor too young so as to avoid having a funeral and conclave too soon, but also to “avoid a papacy as long as John Paul II’s”. The future Pope, they believed, needed to speak Italian in order to control the Vatican’s bureaucracy but would not necessarily be Italian. They thought the candidate would unlikely be from Eastern Europe post-John Paul II, or America because of its status as the last remaining superpower. The future Pope, they wrote, would need to have pastoral experience in order to show his human side and be a good communicator with new media skills.