March 14, 2013 3:28 am

Italian bishops offer congratulations to wrong guy, Milan Cardinal Scola

MILAN – Italian bishops were quick to congratulate the new pope. Too quick: They got the wrong man.

The Italian Bishops’ Conference Wednesday sent a congratulatory email to one of their own, Milan Cardinal Scola – tipped as a hot conclave favourite. They quickly corrected themselves and issued 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 gotten 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.

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