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Italian bishops fete wrong pope

Thursday - 3/14/2013, 11:50am  ET

MILAN, Italy (AP) -- 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 favorite. 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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