maandag 11 februari 2013

Pope Benedict will resign on February 28

Pope Benedict XVI has announced this morning that he plans to resign the papal office on 28 February. Benedict, the 265th pope, is the sixth German to serve as pope and the first since the 11th century. He has led the church during a time in which the church is declining in his native Europe but expanding in Africa and Latin America. Below please find his announcement.

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

vrijdag 4 januari 2013

Rome cardinals back papal successor ‘from Latin America or Africa’

Two of the most senior prelates in the Vatican have said that they would welcome a Pope from Latin America or Africa to succeed Pope Benedict XVI.

The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), and the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity said in separate interviews that the future of the Church "does not lie in Europe".

In an interview with the German daily Rheinische Post CDF head Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller said, "I know a number of bishops and cardinals from Latin America who could take responsibility for the entire world Church".

Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, last month told the Swiss daily Tages-Anzeiger: "In my eyes it would be a good thing if a candidate from Latin America or Africa were elected at the next conclave."

(Source: The Tablet, 4 january 2013)

vrijdag 26 oktober 2012

A new book over possible popes

On Wednesday, journalist Enzo Romeo, who covers the Vatican for Italy's Tg2 television network, launched his new book, Guerre Vaticane ("Vatican Wars"), in a presentation across the street from the Vatican Press Office in Rome's Ancora Bookstore.
The book was prompted by the Vatileaks affair, which lurched to a sort-of conclusion this week with the release of the sentence for Paolo Gabriele, the mole who passed rafters of confidential Vatican documents to Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi.
For readers outside Italy, perhaps the most interesting aspect of Romeo's book is his run-down of those prelates he considers papabili, meaning contenders to be the next pope. Here's how he breaks down the field:


  1. Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan (whom Romeo clearly believes to be at the head of the pack)
  2. Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa, president of the Italian bishops' conference
  3. Archbishop Francesco Moraglia of Venice (not yet a cardinal, but a favorite of the more traditionalist wing of the church)
  4. Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture (Romeo concedes that Ravasi is an intellectual without pastoral experience and asks whether after Benedict XVI, "Can the church permit itself another professor?")
  1. Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Canada, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops
  2. Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, Austria
  3. Cardinal Peter Erdö of Budapest, Hungary
  4. Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon, France
  5. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York
  6. Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer of São Paulo, Brazil
  7. Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
  8. Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum"

(Source: J. L. Allen Jr. in - National Catholic Reporter)

donderdag 25 oktober 2012

Pope names six cardinals to put stamp on Church future

Pope Benedict named six new cardinals on Wednesday, including two from countries with large Muslim populations, to put his stamp on the future of the Catholic Church. All six are under 80 years old and thus eligible under Church law to enter a conclave that will one day choose Benedict's successor.

Among them is American Archbishop James Michael Harvey who, as head of the "Pontifical Household", was the boss of the pope's former butler Paolo Gabriele. He was convicted this month of stealing papal documents and leaking them to the media. A spokesman denied the promotion of Harvey, who will now leave the Vatican to become head of a Rome basilica, was a means of removing him because of the scandal.

The other five new members of the ultra-elite group known as "cardinal electors" are from Lebanon, India, Nigeria, Colombia and the Philippines.

Beatitude Bechara Boutros Rai, 72, the patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church in Lebanon, and Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, 68, from Abuja in Nigeria, are from countries with significant Muslim populations. The pope's decision to raise the two to the highest rank in the Church short of the papacy indicates his concern for relations between Christianity and Islam.

The pope visited predominantly Muslim Lebanon last September and called on members of both faiths to work together to build peace in the Middle East and beyond. In Nigeria, which is about 50 percent Muslim, the Islamist sect Boko Haram has killed hundreds of people in attacks since launching an uprising in 2009. Many of the attacks have been on Christians and churches.


Cardinals are the pope's closest aides in the Vatican, where they run its key departments, and around the world, where they head dioceses to administer the 1.2 billion members of the Roman Catholic Church.

Harvey, 63, looked after world leaders visiting the Vatican and arranges the pope's audiences. Harvey suspended and then fired Gabriele after the butler's thefts were discovered by Monsignor Georg Ganswein, Benedict's private secretary and Gabriele's immediate superior. Gabriele once worked directly for Harvey and it was Harvey who vouched for him when he became papal butler. Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Harvey had been in his position for nearly 15 years and the pope wanted to reward him for long service.

Benedict was criticized in some Church circles last February when, in choosing his previous batch of cardinals, he elevated many from the Vatican's central bureaucracy. He was accused of neglecting the needs of the developing world.

Another new cardinal, Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, 53, the major archbishop of the Syro-Malankara rite in India, is on the front line of inter-religious dialogue with Hinduism.

The other two come from predominantly Catholic countries - Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez, 70, of Bogota, Colombia, and Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, 55, of Manila in the Philippines, which is the largest Catholic country in Asia.

After the consistory, the number of "cardinal electors" will rise to 120, the maximum allowed under Church law. The total number of men in the college of cardinals will be 211.

Benedict has now named 67, or more than half, of the cardinals who will elect his successor from among their own ranks. The other 53 were named by Pope John Paul.

The pope's health appears to be good but he has been looking frail recently and has started using a cane. Popes usually reign for life but in a book in 2010, Benedict said he would not hesitate to become the first pontiff to resign in more than 700 years if he felt no longer able "physically, psychologically and spiritually" to run the Catholic Church.

The last pope to resign willingly was Celestine V in 1294 after reigning for only five months. Gregory XII reluctantly abdicated in 1415 to end a dispute with a rival claimant to the Holy See.

6 new cardinals on November 24

Pope Benedict XVI caught almost everyone off guard today, announcing at the end of his Wednesday General Audience that he planned to call a second Consistory this year, on November 24, to create six new cardinals.

For the past 50 years, there have never been two Consistories in one calendar year. This Consistory will come just 9 months after Benedict's most recent Consistory in February. The last time there were two Consistories in less than 12 months was in 1960-1961, but they were not in the same year (March 28, 1960 and January 16, 1961). One has to go back more than 80 years, to 1929, for the last time two Consistories occurred in the same year, under Pope Pius XI.

Here are the names of the six new cardinals:

1. James Michael Harvey; Prefect of the Papal Household (American)
2. Béchara Boutros Raï, O.M.M.; Patriarch of Antiochia (Antioch), Lebanon (Maronite)(br> 3. Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal; Major Archbishop of Trivandrum, India (Syro-Malankarese)
4. John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan; Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria
5. Jesus Ruben Salazar Gomez; Archbishop of Bogotá, Colombia
6. Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle; Archbishop of Manila, Philippines

What are the "take-aways" from this decision?

1. No Italians were chosen. In an ordinary Consistory, men like Francesco Moraglia in Venice and Cesare Nosiglia in Turin would have been expected to be named. But the Pope did not include them. Why? Well, a large number of Italians were chosen in the last two Consistories, sparking some criticism that deserving prelates from outside Italy were being overlooked. The decision to choose so many Italians was generally attributed to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State. Benedict seems to have heard the criticism, and the names chosen seem to be, at least in part, his response. So no Italians.

2. No Curial cardinals were chosen (though Archbishop Harvey works in the curia now, as Prefect of the Pontifical Household, he will be moved, the Pope said, outside the Curia, to the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls). Normally, men like Archbishop Gerhard Mueller, the new head of the Conregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and several other curial officials, would have been made cardinals in a new Consistory. So this will be not only a "non-Italian" but also a "non-Curia" Consistory. So no Curial officials. Does the Pope need to be clearer?

3. The emergence of the Eastern rites. Boutros Rai is the head of the Lebanese Maronites and Thottunkal is the head of the Syro-Malankars, an eastern rite. The Pope evidently thought it important to have two new Eastern rite cardinals in the college. Note: the Eastern rite liturgies have much in common with the liturgies of the Orthodox Churches.

4. Global representation. The men chosen are from every continent except Europe: two from Asia (India and the Philippines), one from the Middle East (Lebanon, which could be considered part of Asia - "Asia Minor" - I suppose), one from Africa (Nigeria), one from South America (Colombia), and one from North America (Harvey). So, no Europeans...

5. The "Vatileaks" case. A certain mystery surrounds the case of Archbishop Harvey. Harvey is only 63, relatively young to be named a cardinal. But more than this, the Pope's choice of words when he announced today that he had decided to make Harvey a cardinal suggested to some onlookers that the decision had been "last-minute." Writing for Korazym, Andrea Gagliarducci noted: "La decisione appare arrivata all’ultimo momento. Nell’annunciare la creazione a cardinale di Harvey, Benedetto XVI dice semplicemente che ha “in animo” di nominarlo arciprete di San Paolo..." ("The decision seems to have been made at the last minute. In announcing the creation of Harvey as a cardinal, Benedict XVI said simply that he had 'in mind' to name him archpriest of St. Paul's...") Gagliarducci went on to speculate that Harvey's appointment may in part be a result of the "Vatileaks" case, as Harvey is known to have been one of those who recommended the Pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele, for that post back in 2006. Gagliarducci writes: "Su Harvey si è puntato il dito come colui che caldeggiò l’assunzione di Paolo Gabriele." ("Fingers were pointed at Harvey as the one who had recommended the hiring of Paolo Gabriele.") Gagliarducci also writes that Harvey's post - Prefect of the Pontifical Household - may be taken over by... Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, presently the Pope's personal secretary. "Per Georg Gaenswein, segretario di Benedetto XVI, si prospetta un ingresso nella Prefettura della Casa Pontificia, magari proprio al posto lasciato libero da Harvey." If this turns out to be the case, the make-up of the Pope's innermost circle in the Apostolic Palace would be less American, more German.

Looking Ahead

After this upcoming Consistory is held, 12 cardinals will turn 80 between November 24, 2012 (the day of the Consistory) and the end of 2013. So Benedict could decide to choose some of those left out this time for one 12-cardinal Consistory, or two smaller 6-cardinal Consistories, during the upcoming year.

By the end of 2014, 20 Cardinals reach age 80, so early 2015 could be a potential date for still another Consistory. By the end of January 2015 - just two years and three months from now - Cardinals Danneels, Farina, Meisner, Re, Tettamanzini, Humes, Amigo-Vallejo, Sardi, Rodé and Bertone himself all pass the age of 80.

(Source: Robert Moynihan in - Inside the Vatican magazine)

woensdag 29 augustus 2012

Next pope will be African according to odds from Irish bookmaker

The next pope is very likely to be African according to Paddy Power, Ireland’s leading bookmaker, who has come out with a list of “papabile,” those considered papal material. The list comes at a time of increased health problems for Pope Benedict, who, at 85, has begun using a cane and is appearing more frail.

Favorite is Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria, who is 15/8 (bet eight to win fifteen), while in second place is Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana at 9/4. That’s two top Africans in the top two spots according to the bookmaker’s odds.

In third place in the odds is Archbishop Angelo Scola of Venice at 7/1 while in fourth is Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiago of Honduras at 10/1 while Cardinal Albert Malcolm Ranjith at 33.1 rounds out the top five.

Arinze was considered papabile in 2005 when Benedict was elected, and he now has Benedict’s old job within the Vatican. Against him is his age, he is almost 80 and may be too old when Benedict passes

Cardinal Turkson is only 64, born to a Methodist mother and Catholic father, and has said that "if God would wish to see a black man also as pope, thanks be to God.” The Catholic Church chronicler Rocco Palmo called Turkson the lone Scripture scholar in the Pope's "Senate" and believes that his status as a potential "papabile" has been elevated due to his appointment as spokesman for Second Synod for Africa in 2009.

Three recent popes have come from the Venice archdiocese which makes Cardinal Scola an automatic favorite as the top Italian. Church experts say the best outsider is Cardinal Marc Ouellet from Canada who handled the recent Eucharistic Conference in Dublin.

(Source: P. Counihan, - IrishCentral)