Next Papal conclave “to be held at Sundridge Park”

by articulatedsheep

In his first act as Pope, Francis I has confirmed that Papal conclave following his death will be held at south-east London hotel and conference venue Sundridge Park, instead of the Sistine Chapel, in a break from tradition.

Cardinals gathered to select a new Pope spent much of their time discussing the inadequacies of their current facilities, and finally resolved to change venues “next time”.

At just 76, critics worry he could be too callow and immature for the role

At just 76, critics worry he could be too callow and immature for the role

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, chair of the working group set up to investigate a different location for future conclaves, said, “Basically, while the Sistine Chapel is lovely, it’s frankly too big for our needs and the day-delegate rate is way too high.”

“We spoke to the facilities management people but they simply won’t budge on the price, so we’re scouting around for other options at the moment.”

Clergy are said to favour Sundridge Park because of its proximity to the M20, ease of access from London Victoria and the fact that it has a competitively-priced on-site restaurant.

Because conclaves are usually the only opportunity that cardinals from around the world have to meet up, the opportunity of the venue change is being taken to “shake up” how the centuries-old procedure, hitherto shrouded in mystery, should work.

“We thought that, given that everyone’s together, we could combine it with a few teambuilding exercises,” said Cardinal Bagnasco. “It’s always been a bit of a nightmare doing that here in the Vatican – there’s very little outside space and when we tried doing an assault course in St Peter’s Square last time round, in 2005, although everyone agreed it was a good idea and they were really glad they did it on the day itself, the evaluation forms we got back from everyone afterwards were actually pretty negative. Sundridge Park has extensive grounds and we just think that the privacy and being away from the office will help people to relax a bit more.” Vatican insiders also want the conclave to be used as an opportunity to go over the Catholic Church’s three-year Strategic Plan, which, according to senior figures, “could probably do with a refresh after the pretty poor figures we had in quarters two and three”.

This is not the first time that ecumenical meetings have been held in a conference venue on the outskirts of London. During John Paul II’s papacy, regular meetings of the Papal Curia were held at Theobald’s Park near Cheshunt, thought to have been selected because it was, according to the former Pope, “literally half a mile from junction 25 of the M25, but you completely wouldn’t know it – it’s so peaceful”. However, Benedict XVI, a noted traditionalist, disapproved of these off-site meetings, feeling that, “they’re just a chance for people to skive off work”.


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