vrijdag 30 december 2011

Conclave contenders. Potential Papabili.

One of the talking points in Rome in recent months has been the growing frailty of Pope Benedict. Inevitably, speculation has turned to his likely successor. Our Rome correspondent offers an insider’s guide to those considered papabile

In just a few months from now, Pope Benedict XVI will officially surpass Blessed John Paul II and become the oldest man in more than 100 years to serve as Bishop of Rome. The Polish Pope died just 16 days shy of his eighty-fifth birthday, a milestone Pope Benedict is set to reach on 16 April. Only four other popes since the end of the thirteenth century have made it to 86 years of age, of which the most recent was Pope Leo XIII, who died aged 93 in 1903.

Although Pope Benedict’s general health appears to be good, he has begun to show signs of fatigue and increasing frailty. History and prudence would suggest that the car­dinals of the Church should seriously start thinking about suitable candidates to succeed him. Casting a vote for the Successor of Peter is the main and gravest purpose for which they are given a red hat. They must avoid being caught unprepared, as apparently they were at the last conclave, when a number of cardinals publicly confessed that they did not know their confrères very well.

The next Pope is likely to be the product of a compromise among the electors, evidently not the case at the last conclave. The voting rules had been significantly revised in 1996 by Pope John Paul II, allowing for a simple majority vote after a couple of weeks of stalemate. Previously, voting would continue until a candidate received two-thirds-plus-one votes. Apparently, Joseph Ratzinger had reached a simple majority early in the balloting and, according to one theory, a number of other cardinals agreed to add their support to his candidacy rather than risk a protracted conclave and highlighting the divisiveness that that would have signalled.

This is not likely to happen at the next conclave. Shortly after his election, Pope Benedict wisely changed the rules back to the traditional system. So his successor is most likely to have been someone with broad support rather than one coming mainly from a particular faction. According to number 1024 in the Code of Canon Law, any baptised male is eligible. But since 1378, the Pope has always been elected from within the College of Cardinals.

Even if Pope Benedict creates any number of new members before the next conclave, the college is likely to maintain certain characteristics. First, there will be a significant group of men with experience of working in the Roman Curia, meaning the man who is eventually elected Pope will have to have the backing of this bloc. Secondly, approximately half or more of the members will be Europeans and an even larger percentage will have studied in Rome or somewhere else on the Old Continent. Thus, the successful candidate, even if not European, is likely to have undergone a degree of European cross-pollination. And since this is an election for Bishop of Rome, any serious papabile must have a decent command of the Italian language.

The likely candidates

Cardinal Angelo Scola (born 7 November 1941), Archbishop of Milan, is the current front-runner according to many Italians. He is close to Pope Benedict and has an impressive curriculum vitae that includes serving as rector of the Lateran University and bishop in two previous dioceses, including as Patriarch of Venice. He is also one of the first priests to be ordained, in 1970, exclusively for service in Comunione e Liberazione (CL), although his supporters have tried to argue that his membership in the movement ceased once he became a bishop. With access to CL funding, he has been a creator of ambitious university and cultural programmes, and a restorer of church buildings. One of his major accomplishments has been to establish the Oasis Foundation, which brings Muslim and Christian scholars together to brainstorm on the future of the Mediterranean world. But he is said to have opponents in the Roman Curia. And at age 70, the clock is ticking.

Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer (born 21 September 1949), Archbishop of São Paulo, is the strongest Latin American candidate but has appeal that stretches beyond geographical considerations. Not only has he headed the largest diocese in the world’s largest Catholic country since 2007, he also has sterling Roman credentials. German-Brazilian, he obtained a licentiate and doctorate in theology at the Gregorian University and later spent several years working at the Congregation for Bishops (1994-2001). In between, he worked in the Diocese of Toledo (Brazil) as a seminary rector and parish priest. Auxiliary bishop since 2001 and cardinal since 2007, the Roman Curia, Europeans and Latinos could find him a compromise candidate.

Cardinal Peter Turkson (born 11 October 1948), president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, is the front-runner among the Africans. Born in Ghana of a Catholic father and a mother who converted from Methodism, he is one of the few Africans to have undertaken doctoral studies at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. He completed his basic theology at a seminary run by the Conventual Franciscans in upstate New York and then taught in a seminary in his native Ghana. He was named Archbishop of Cape Coast in 1992 and cardinal in 2003. Since taking up his Vatican post in October 2009, he has impressed people by his clear pastoral sense, a down-to-earth manner and his gentle sense of humour.

Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga SDB (born 29 December 1942), Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, has been described as a Latin American John Paul II because of his charismatic personality, linguistic abilities and his work in promoting the Church’s social teaching. The native Honduran, who is currently president of Caritas Internationalis, was “Italianised” early on by his Salesian formation in Rome and Turin. A conservatoire-trained musician, he spent his initial brief years of priesthood in the classroom before becoming a bishop at the young age of 35. He was created cardinal in 2001. He tarnished his reputation by initially backing the 2009 military coup in Honduras.

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn OP (born 22 January 1945), Archbishop of Vienna, is probably the strongest European candidate from outside Italy. A ­theologian of the Dominican tradition who studied in Paris and Germany, he is urbane, polyglot and of noble lineage. When he became a young cardinal in 1998, he was considered one of the brightest among the conservatives in the college, but that was when there existed some notable moderate-to-progressives who were still of voting age. Protests from reform-minded Catholics in Austria are now testing the veteran’s metal and the jury is still out on his performance. Some believe he would break new ground if he were allowed. But his closeness to Pope Benedict and the improbability that the cardinals would elect two German-speaking popes in a row go against him.

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri (born 18 November 1943) has been described as an ideal Italian-Argentine candidate who would restore the order that has all but crumbled in the Roman Curia during the current pontificate. Currently prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, he is a lifelong papal diplomat with a pedigree from the Accademia Ecclesiastica. As sostituto (deputy Secretary of State) from 2000 to 2007, he was one of the most powerful men in the pontificate of John Paul II. However, he lacks pastoral experi­ence and has never been a diocesan bishop.

Cardinal Marc Ouellet SSP (born 8 June 1944) has headed the Congregation for Bishops since June 2010. A French-Canadian, he joined the prestigious Sulpician teaching society shortly after priestly ordination and has spent most of his life as a seminary professor and rector. He spent 10 years in Colombia and then nine back in Canada before going to Rome in 1997 to teach at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family. He is a former editor of Communio, the international journal founded by Joseph Ratzinger and Hans Urs von Balthasar, both of whose theology he espouses. After serving briefly as vice-president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, he was named Archbishop of Quebec in 2002 and received his red hat three years later. During his eight years as spiritual leader in one the world’s most secularised societies, Cardinal Ouellet often caused controversy by speaking out on moral issues. His affability and sincerity helped him smooth out the rifts, but it is not clear that he was able to ­accomplish much in his brief time there.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi (born 18 October 1942) became an instant hit when Pope Benedict named him president of the Pontifical Council for Culture in 2007. A first-rate biblical scholar who has popularised Scripture studies through Italian television, radio and popular periodicals, he has ambitiously spearheaded efforts to re-establish the prominent place that the Catholic Church and the Vatican used to occupy in the world of high culture. Before taking up his post in Rome, he spent most of his time as a professor and director of the highly-regard Ambrosian Library in his native Milan. A kind and affable man and someone who is “moderate” ecclesiologic­ally, he unfortunately lacks global and multi-cultural experience. He is a classic European intellectual.

(Source: Robert Mickens in - The Tablet, 31 December 2011)

woensdag 28 december 2011

Pope expected to announce new cardinals by February 2012, says veteran Vatican watcher

In the year to come, "God willing," the fourth consistory of Benedict XVI is scheduled to take place, with the creation of new cardinals. And thanks to these new additions, the number of voting cardinals appointed by Ratzinger will for the first time exceed that of Wojtyla in the college of papal electors.

The most probable date of the new consistory is the weekend before February 22, the liturgical feast of the Chair of Saint Peter: a feast traditionally associated with consistories, but not usable next year, because it coincides with Ash Wednesday.

In all three previous consistories of Benedict XVI – held on March 24, 2006, November 24, 2007, and November 20, 2010 – the official announcement was made about a month in advance, and always at the end of a Wednesday general audience: respectively on February 22, October 17, and October 20 of those years. If this temporal rhythm is kept this time as well, it can be hypothesized that the names of the new cardinals to be created on February 19 could be made known at the end of the audience on Wednesday, January 18.

So far, Benedict XVI has created 62 cardinals, 12 of whom were already over the age of eighty when they were promoted. 57 of them are still alive, and 46 of them have the right to vote, becoming 45 next January 13, when the Chinese Joseph Zen will pass the age that no longer permits a cardinal to participate in a conclave.

On the basis of norms established by Paul VI in 1973 and confirmed by John Paul II, the maximum number of cardinal electors – those who, in keeping with the 1970 motu proprio "Ingravescentem aetatem," are under the age of eighty and therefore have the right to participate in an eventual conclave – is fixed at 120.

There are currently 192 cardinals. Those under the age of eighty amount to 109, dropping to 107 on February 19 (in addition to Zen, in fact, the Portuguese José Saraiva Martins will turn 80 on January 6. This means that at the next consistory, there will be at least 13 new cardinals, but more likely 15 or more, considering that in the following months of 2012 another 11 cardinals will turn eighty.

So far Benedict XVI has exceeded the ceiling of 120 by only one (this happened in 2007 and 2010). So this time the extra appointments could be slightly more numerous, but still well below those had with John Paul II, when – after the consistories of 2001 and 2003 – the record number of 135 cardinal electors was reached.

Lists of new cardinals have already begun to circulate in the Apostolic Palace, but the definitive one will be established, as always, only a very few days before the announcement.

In the consistory of 2010, half of the posts for cardinals went to directors of the curia and of other Roman ecclesiastical offices that are intended to be occupied by a cardinal. For 2012, the appointments expected concern the Italians Fernando Filoni (prefect of Propaganda Fide), Domenico Calcagno (president of APSA), Giuseppe Versaldi (president of the prefecture of economic affairs of the Holy See) and Giuseppe Bertello (president of the governorate of Vatican City-State), the Brazilian Joao Braz de Aviz (prefect of the congregation for religious), the American Edwin F. O'Brien (pro-grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher) and the Spanish Santos Abril y Castello (archpriest of the papal basilica of Saint Mary Major). To these could be added Francesco Coccopalmerio (president of the pontifical council for legislative texts), and/or Rino Fisichella (president of the newly created council for promoting new evangelization).

As for the dioceses traditionally led by a cardinal, it seems that the practice will be respected that calls for not creating a new one where an emeritus is present who has not yet turned eighty. An exception, if there is one, could be made for Timothy Dolan in New York, and for the Dominican Dominik Duka in Prague, the cardinals emeritus of which will turn eighty, respectively, on April 2 and May 17.

The list should include the new archbishops of Berlin (Rainer Maria Woelki), Toronto (Thomas C. Collins), and Utrecht (Willem J. Eijk), the bishop of Hong Kong (John Tong), as well as the new Maronite patriarch Bechara Rai in Lebanon and the new major archbishop of the Syro-Malabars in India, George Alencherry.

A more complex question is that of the episcopal sees in which the cardinal emeritus has not gone into retirement, but has been called to another post in the Roman curia. This is the case of Florence, Toledo, and Quebec, whose "archbishops emeritus" (called this in the Annuario Pontificio) are now, respectively, president of the pontifical council for the family (Ennio Antonelli), prefect of the congregation of divine worship (Antonio Cañizares) and prefect of the dicastery for bishops (Marc Ouellet). In 2010, the practice of excluding the presence of two voting cardinals in a single see was applied rigorously in such cases as well. For 2012, no definitive decision has been made yet, although the idea of confirming this rigid application seems to be prevailing.

Another round will have to be awaited by the archbishops of Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Westminster, Mechelen-Brussels, Turin, Seville, Rio de Janeiro, Sâo Salvador da Bahia, Santiago, Chile, Bogotà, Quito, Giakarta, Manila.

Beyond the preselected names, the fact remains that in 2012 – with the new consistory and with the thirteen cardinals who will pass the age of eighty, only two of whom were created during the current pontificate (Zen and the Filipino Gaudencio Rosales) – the college of papal electors will for the first time be composed of a majority of cardinals created by Benedict XVI.

Of course, on February 19 pope Ratzinger could create one or more cardinals "ad honorem," who have already passed the age of eighty.

(Source: Sandro Magister in "L'espresso")

maandag 26 december 2011

Vatican: la succession est ouverte

A 84 ans, Benoît XVI présente quelques signes de fatigue et la Curie bruisse de rumeurs. Déjà deux cardinaux sont favoris.

Pour la première fois de son pontificat, le Saint-Père est apparu il y a un mois dans la basilique Saint-Pierre juché sur une estrade mobile poussée par les gentilshommes du palais apostolique. Inventé pour Jean-Paul II, l’engin permet au Pape de remonter sans peine l’allée centrale. Cette vision inhabituelle de Benoît XVI a, bien sûr, intrigué les dignes membres du Collège cardinalice, d’autant que le porte-parole de la salle de presse du Saint-Siège, le père Federico Lombardi, a cru bon d’expliquer que c’était «juste pour épargner de la fatigue au Saint-Père» et qu’«aucune douleur ou indication médicale ne l’avait contraint à utiliser cette estrade mobile». Depuis, on ose parler sotto voce de succession, avec un Pape de 84 ans qui, souhaitant limiter ses activités publiques solennelles, a fermement indiqué à ­Alberto Gasbarri, le responsable de ses voyages, qu’il ne fallait désormais lui organiser aucun déplacement de plus de quatre jours. «Sa Sainteté est sous une bulle, comme anesthésiée, ayant fort peu de contact avec le monde extérieur», raconte sans complaisance un haut prélat. Alors, comment éviter que ne se pose la délicate et sacro-sainte question des papabili ?

Difficile d’imaginer le portrait-robot d’un prochain pape.

Les futurs grands électeurs, princes de l’Eglise à la tête des divers dicastères romains et cardinaux du monde entier, évitent les déclarations publiques, même chez eux. Contrairement à ce qui se passe dans la vie civile, un éventuel candidat au Poste Suprême ne doit pas seulement, de nos jours, occuper une tribune prestigieuse, intervenir opportunément dans le débat public de son pays et être diplomate, mais surtout ne jamais poser pour des journaux, afin de ne pas donner l’impression de se présenter en potentiel successeur du 266e prince des apôtres. Du grand art! Arriver à photographier, il y a quelques jours, deux éminents personnages qui se profilent à l’ombre de la place Saint-Pierre, les cardinaux Angelo Scola et Peter Erdö, a donc été un exploit pour Paris Match. La nomination du premier, nouveau cardinal ­archevêque de Milan, à la tête du plus grand diocèse du monde avec 1.107 paroisses et 4,8 millions de baptisés, obéit à un critère de proximité personnelle et intellectuelle avec Benoît XVI. Le second, cardinal archevêque d’Esztergom-Budapest, est primat de Hongrie. Ce sont les figures discrètes d’un Vatican dormant, et on murmure de plus en plus, derrière la porte de bronze, que l’un des deux pourrait un jour devenir pape.

Comme l’explique un des cardinaux très en cour et au cœur du système, "si le facteur temps sera déterminant pour tenter d’imaginer le prochain conclave, il faut procéder par élimination. Le continent asiatique, et 9 cardinaux, avec une Eglise très minoritaire, souvent persécutée, paraît exclu. Tout comme le sous-continent indien, qui ne compte que deux cardinaux. L’Australie, avec un seul représentant, paraît hors course. L’Afrique, dont actuellement peu de personnalités émergentes (en dehors de Son Eminence ghanéenne Peter Turkson), connaît beaucoup de problèmes. Par ailleurs, il n’est pas rare que des prêtres africains aient secrètement fondé une famille... Il y a donc peu de chances qu’un membre de ce clergé chaleureux, porte un jour la chasuble papale. Les Etats-Unis représentent une telle puissance qu’on a du mal, au Vatican, à même en envisager l’idée. Quant à l’Amérique latine, une personnalité aussi remarquable qu’Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, seul cardinal du Honduras, président de Caritas Interna­tionalis et archevêque d’un pays tout petit et corrompu, s’il reste un outsider, est d’abord le candidat des journalistes, car nous autres considérons cet esprit libre un peu trop à gauche. De plus, dans ce continent où se trouve la majorité des catholiques de la terre, il y a peu de solidarité entre les cardinaux mais un sourd esprit de compétition ». C’est pourquoi la vieille Europe pourrait à nouveau, le moment venu, abriter le futur Souverain Pontife, élu parmi les 109 cardinaux, eux-mêmes électeurs (sur les 192 qui se répartissent dans le monde, dont 47 dans la seule péninsule et 23 Italiens électeurs).

Une fois éliminés les pays d’Europe qui ont voté le mariage homosexuel, ou bien ceux où l’Eglise a subi de terribles problèmes, tels l’Irlande, l’Espagne, la Hollande... par ailleurs sans personnalités marquantes, on arrive au cardinal hongrois Peter Erdö. Vice-benjamin du Collège cardinalice, et réélu le 30 septembre 2011 pour la deuxième fois par 33 conférences épiscopales et quatre indépendantes. Ce Transylvanien fort populaire, dont Jean-Paul II avait fait, en 2002, à 51 ans, son benjamin parmi les cardinaux, est président du Conseil des conférences épiscopales d’Europe (CCEE). Venant d’un pays très pratiquant, il est à la tête d’une influente tribune géopolitique qui lui donne régulièrement l’occasion d’intervenir dans les grands débats publics, sur les importantes questions de ce début de XXIe siècle : le combat contre la pauvreté, les causes de la crise économique mondiale qui relèvent, selon lui, de la nature profonde de l’être humain et pas seulement des chiffres… Il rencontre aussi les chefs d’Etat, impressionnés par son allure de prince de l’Eglise, par sa vaste connaissance de l’Europe et de ses langues. Il en parle sept. De fait, même si ces derniers ne votent pas au conclave, certains ont un réel ascendant sur les cardinaux de leur pays… Erdö est docteur en théologie et droit canon, a fait de la recherche à l’université de Berkeley en Californie. Lorsque je lui ai demandé comment il voyait son avenir, il m’a répondu dans un français parfait: «L’essentiel est pour moi d’annoncer l’Evangile dans les grandes villes où la relation humaine s’appauvrit. Car, malheureusement, la foi chrétienne déserte les métropoles européennes et l’Eglise semble absente des enjeux de l’urbanisation.» Il n’en dira pas plus. Comment, cependant, ne pas noter qu’ayant fait l’unanimité au sein du CCEE, nombre de ses pairs pourraient à nouveau, le jour venu, voter pour lui ?

Le nouveau pape devra remotiver les jeunes. Les vocations diminuent
Parcours sans fautes et insolite également que celui d’Angelo Scola, au prénom prédestiné. Ce fils du peuple, dont le père camionneur lisait « L’Unita », ­naguère la bible du prolétariat italien, a la distinction des princes de l’Eglise de jadis et vient de quitter la cité des Doges et la basilique Saint-Marc pour le duomo de Milan. Pour « gouverner » cette enclave religieuse de l’épiscopat italien presque aussi importante que le Vatican. Un défi pour ce Lombard qui collaborait dans les années 70 à «Com­munio», la revue théologique de référence à l’époque, dont Joseph Ratzinger était l’une des grandes signatures. Aussi travailleur qu’habile et déterminé, Scola a un seul défaut aux yeux des catholiques et de certains cardinaux : celui d’avoir, dans le passé, affiché une proximité avec Communion et ­Libération, mouvement milanais de 100 000 membres et puissance politique économique et intellectuelle ancrée dans le catholicisme social italien. Cet homme brillant, parlant quatre langues, créé cardinal en 2003 par Jean-Paul II, a un tempérament très politique. Il s’est, dit-il, éloigné de cette mouvance, et sait à quel point ce lien qu’il tâche de faire oublier divise au sein même de son Eglise lombarde. Mais il va de l’avant, pratiquant l’évangélisation tout en s’impliquant dans le monde culturel et la catéchèse sociale.

Ses années de recteur de l’université pontificale du Latran lui ont appris à articuler réflexion et action. Lorsque je lui ai demandé s’il aimerait devenir le 267e pape, il m’a répondu avec panache que «la première mission du cardinal n’est pas d’élire le Souverain Pontife mais, comme le symbolise le rouge de notre robe, d’être prêt à donner son sang pour l’Eglise». Puis, imperturbable, il a ajouté: «Tout est entre les mains de la providence, et il y a parfois des accidents de l’histoire...». Le nouveau pape devra remotiver les jeunes car, en cinq ans, les vocations ont vertigineusement diminué. Il lui faudra se prononcer sur les unions des homosexuels, la bioéthique, le recours au préservatif dans certains cas, les divorcés remariés souhaitant communier, le ­célibat des prêtres, la consécration d’hommes mariés, l’euthanasie… Autre sujet essentiel, la gestion du gouvernement de l’Eglise. Doit-elle être toujours aussi pyramidale, avec l’autorité souveraine de l’évêque de Rome, ou plus collégiale ? Benoît XVI interfère rarement dans l’alchimie complexe des affaires internes de la Curie romaine et modestement sur les questions étrangères, décourageant en cela les nonces (ambassadeurs du Vatican aux quatre coins de la terre), aujourd’hui au nombre de 180 (un par pays), qui, lorsqu’ils lui rédigent des notes pour lui faire part de leurs observations sur le terrain, ne reçoivent pas souvent de réponse…

Peter Erdö aurait un avantage car il n’a que 59 ans (Jean-Paul II a été élu à 58 ans) alors qu’Angelo Scola vient de fêter ses 70 ans… L’archevêché de Milan représente cependant un Etat dans l’Eglise. De fait, au XXe siècle, deux papes, Pie XI et Paul VI, vinrent de Milan, le plus imposant diocèse d’Italie, qui compte de nos jours 3 000 prêtres en exercice (l’équivalent d’environ un quart des prêtres français). De plus, il siégeait auparavant à Venise, et la Sérénissime a donné trois papes à l’histoire récente : Pie X, Jean XXIII et Jean-Paul Ier. Angelo Scola a donc la lourde charge d’avoir porté le titre si convoité de patriarche de Venise et d’être maintenant cardinal archevêque de Milan. Un cas unique dans l’Eglise de par la volonté suprême de Benoît XVI, qui en a fait un personnage aussi incontournable que prestigieux. D’ailleurs, pour le mettre en lumière davantage, Sa ­Sainteté, qui s’était rendue à Venise en mai dernier et avait même navigué dans une gondole spécialement repeinte en blanc sur le Grand Canal avec son patriarche, lui rendra de nouveau visite au duomo de Milan, cette fois, le dimanche 3 juin 2012, à l’occasion de la VIIe rencontres mondiale des familles. Ce qui ­signifie être par deux fois, en un peu plus de douze mois, au côté de son « candidat ». Tous les regards seront à nouveau tournés vers Angelo Scola, car il s’agit là d’une forme de consécration, en quelque sorte une désignation officielle. La figure montante de l’Eglise catholique. Ainsi que le souligne le cardinal Tucci: «Si l’on est subtil et ambitieux, Milan donne des ailes. Et ici, tout commence en mystique et finit en politique...»
(Source: Paris Match, 25 december)

zaterdag 17 december 2011

Paus begint zwak en oververmoeid aan drukke kerstweken

De paus afgelopen week tijdens een gebed in de Sint Pieter. © reuters
De paus is op dit moment zwakker dan ooit. Dat zeggen mensen die de afgelopen tijd met hem hebben gewerkt. Hij schijnt te moe te zijn om in te gaan op wat hem gezegd wordt. Ook ontvangt Benedictus XVI niet langer individueel bisschoppen die bij hem op bezoek komen. Met twee drukke kerstweken vol publieke optredens voor de boeg, is het afwachten hoe de paus zich hier doorheen slaat.

Een paar weken geleden begon de paus met het gebruiken van een bewegend platform. Op die manier wordt hem de lange wandeling naar de Sint Pieter bespaard. Woorvoerder van het Vaticaan, Federico Lombardi heeft gezegd dat er geen medische reden is voor het gebruik van het rijdende platform. Het is alleen bedoeld om de krachten van de paus te sparen.

Benedictus wordt volgend jaar 85 dus het is alleen maar natuurlijk dat hij het wat rustiger aan gaat doen. Gezien zijn leeftijd is het zelfs opmerkelijk dat hij er een voortdurend bomvol werkschema op nahoudt. Afgelopen week bevestigde hij bijvoorbeeld dat hij in de lente naar Mexico en Cuba zal reizen.

Vonk verdwenen
Vorige maand was de paus nog drie dagen in het westen van Afrika. Hij trotseerde daar temperaturen van 32 graden Celsius. Eenmaal 'thuis' is hij volgens ingewijden gesloopt. De dagelijkse sleur van het paus zijn, eist zijn tol. Een vonk is verdwenen. Op sommige dagen lijkt Benedictus compleet van de wereld te zijn.

David Rosen ontmoette de paus onlangs tijdens een bezoek van religieuze leiders aan het Italiaanse Assisi. Rosen, hoofd interreligieuze relaties van het American Jewish Committee, zat naast de paus tijdens de treinreis naar de stad. 'Ik werd getroffen door de afname van zijn kracht en de achteruitgang van zijn gezondheid. Hij ziet er dunner en zwakker dan ooit uit'.

De toestand van Benedictus roept vragen op over de toekomst van het pausdom. De paus heeft immers ooit zelf gezegd dat een paus moet afreden als hij het werk niet meer kan doen. Het is een paus ook toegestaan om af te treden. Maar slechts een handvol heeft dit gedaan. De laatste was paus Gregorius XII in 1415.

(Bronnen: AP/De Volkskrant)

vrijdag 4 november 2011

Cardinal electors at 112

Cardinal Bernard Francis Law of Boston turns 80 on Friday November 4. The passing of his birthday marks a turning point because he loses his voting power in the event of a papal conclave. The number of elector cardinals then drops to 112. Cardinal Law will then join the 80 other non-voting cardinals.

Cardinal Law has served as the Archpriest of Rome's Basilica of Saint Mary Major since 2004. In 1985 Pope John Paul II made him a cardinal. In 2005 he participated in the conclave that elected Joseph Ratzinger as pope.

dinsdag 25 oktober 2011

Time to start worrying about the Pope's health?

Last week I advised CWN readers not to waste time worrying about the news that Pope Benedict was towed down the aisle on a rolling platform when he celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s basilica. It was obviously a concession to his advanced age, I said, but apparently nothing more.

This week brought a new report: The Pope is no longer scheduling one-on-one visits with the bishops making their ad limina visits. OK, you can start worrying now.

There’s a perfectly plausible reason for the latest change in policy: to lighten the Pope’s schedule. Instead of a series of quick, rushed meetings with each of the visiting diocesan bishops, the Pope has decided to hold longer, more broad-ranging sessions with several bishops at a time. There’s nothing inherently alarming about the change. But coming just after the re-introduction of the rolling platform (which we know all too well from its use during the last years of Blessed John Paul II), it’s a clear indication that Vatican officials are on a drive to save the Pope’s energy—presumably because the physical demands of his work are taking their toll.

This is not a call to panic. There is no indication that the Holy Father is suffering from any severe ailment. But he is 84 now, and his health has never been robust. Even if simple fatigue is the main problem now, more serious problems may be coming soon.

(Phil Lawler, CatholicCulture.org)

zaterdag 1 oktober 2011

The consistory and the Italian puzzle

2012 will see the celebration of the fourth creation of new cardinals of Pope Benedict XVI's pontificate. The fourth Consistory of Pope Benedict XVI for the creation of new cardinals will be a puzzle not easily solved. In the last few days there have been persistent rumors in the Vatican that the Pontiff was about to announce a new "batch" of red caps, to celebrate the consistory on the Feast of Christ the King in November, as happened last year.

The idea, however, seems definitely to have waned, though technically there is still time: generally, a month passes between the announcement of a consistory and its celebration. It seems more likely that the creation of new "princes of the Church" will take place in 2012: in February or June. Currently, there are 113 cardinals with right of entry to the conclave (and thus, there are seven vacancies), and there will be 110 by year-end: a consistory in November could therefore provide a dozen new cardinals under eighty. In February 2012, there will be 12 seats available (and there could even be a consistory with as many as fifteen new voting cardinals), while in June the number of posts would increase to 18. Finally, in November 2012, a consistory could be held that would create 25 new cardinals.

One problem will be the high number of Italians. Of the 13 cardinals who will turn eighty in 2012, thereby forfeiting the right to enter the conclave, only one, Renato Raffaele Martino, is Italian. And, compared with only one Italian exiting the college of voters, at least four or five are expected to enter, increasing the Italian patrol in the most exclusive club in the world, the voters who elect the Pope.

There are already two archbishops residing in our country that are waiting for the cardinal's hat: Giuseppe Betori, of Florence, who missed his turn in the preceding consistory, and Cesare Nosiglia of Turin, who was also nominated before the creation of cardinals in November 2011. To these two, should the consistory be held in June, one must add the new patriarch of Venice, the successor of Cardinal Angelo Scola, moved to Milan, whose appointment is expected early next year.

The last consistory rigidly and categorically applied the rule of not including on the list residing archbishops whose predecessor emeritus is under eighty, and therefore voting in the conclave, even if this cardinal had been recalled to the Roman Curia. It will be interesting to see how things will proceed concerning these and other important episcopal sees whose occupants are traditionally elevated to the cardinalate. If the rule were to be re-applied, it would exclude Florence and Turin again, as well as Toledo, Philadelphia, Mechelen-Brussels, Los Angeles, Santiago de Chile, Rio de Janeiro and Quebec. Among the paradoxes of such a strict application of the rule, is the case of Toledo: the current archbishop, Braulio Rodríguez Plaza, at 67 ½ is older than his predecessor, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, who turns 66 in two weeks, called to Rome as Prefect of Divine Worship. This means that, in theory Rodríguez Plaza would never have the chance to enter the college of cardinals.

But the overcrowding of Italian candidates for the red hat comes above all from the Roman Curia. In fact, scarlet awaits the Prefect of Propaganda Fide, Fernando Filoni; the president of the Administration of Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), Domenico Calcagno; the new president of the Governorate, Giuseppe Bertello and finally the new president of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs of the Holy See, Giuseppe Versaldi (the latter was appointed to lead the "Vatican Court of Auditors", but did not leave the diocese, where he got permission to stay for a few months, doing double duty as a result of pastoral projects undertaken by him). As one can see, there are already four, to which could be added Archbishop Francesco Coccopalmerio, President of the Pontifical Council for the interpretation of legislative texts (and possible candidate to head the Apostolic Penitentiary); and in view of the Synod on the new evangelization, also the President of the Pontifical Council by the same name wanted by Pope Ratzinger, Archbishop Rino Fisichella.

In the Roman Curia, the only non-Italian to be taken for sure is the Brazilian Joao Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Religious. As one can see, the Italians, and the curial Italians, this time, too, could make up the lion's share, laying claim to a large part of the new posts in the consistory. There is also expectancy to see how Latin America will fare, penalized last consistory.

Some are hoping that certain heads of curial offices will have to wait a turn, as happens nowadays with the large archbishoprics in the world. Benedict XVI, unlike his predecessor, is keen not to exceed the number of 120 cardinal electors established in his days by Paul VI. And although consistories for the creation of cardinals are events totally dependent on the will of the Pope - who is accountable to no one for his choices, preferences and exclusions - a certain balance has always been sought in formulating the list of new cardinals, including persons coming from various continents and from Churches who are suffering for various reasons, as well as pastors who have distinguished themselves by their courageous witness.

At one time the Roman Curia was composed almost entirely of Italians and there is also, according to several scholars of church history, an "Italian vocation" to the Curia. While it was Pius XII and his extraordinary creation of cardinals in 1946 that gave a decisive boost to the internationalization of the College of Cardinals, it was above all with Paul VI that the Roman Curia was opened to the world.

(Bron: La Stampa - Vatican Insider)

zaterdag 13 augustus 2011

Electing a new pope is all fun and games

Italians have an expression, "every death of a pope," to describe rare events. And with Pope Benedict XVI in good health and scheduled to take three foreign trips in the next three months, few are talking about his replacement.

But once a week in the game Vatican Wars, an impassioned struggle begins anew to choose a virtual pontiff who could change or reaffirm some of the Roman Catholic Church's longest established - and most controversial - teachings.

The online papal electors are divided between the socially conservative "Templars" and the liberal "Crusaders." Separating them are five hot-button issues: abortion, artificial birth control, same-sex marriage, women's ordination and married priests.

According to the rules, changing the church's position on any of these practices (which are all forbidden in real life except, in limited cases, married priests) requires the election of 10 liberal popes in a row.

Since the first Facebook election in July, one liberal pope has been chosen, followed by three conservatives, and recently another liberal.

The premise of Vatican Wars, whose name echoes the popular Facebook game Mafia Wars, has drawn fire from those who think it turns religion into a popularity contest.

"The game is based on a fundamental misunderstanding," wrote Catholic Deacon Nick Donnelly in his blog, Protect the Pope. "A pope could not change the church's teaching on same- sex marriage, abortion, contraception, homosexuality, or the ordination of women. To change these doctrines would be to break with the apostolic faith."
The game's designer said the focus on social issues was not intended to shift attitudes one way or the other, but instead to maximize the game's appeal.

"It attracts people to the game who perhaps used to be Catholic and who are not anymore, or who simply disagree with the church's social positions," said Cheyenne Ehrlich, founder of the SGR Games.

Despite some instances during the game's pilot run of players bullying their ideological opponents, Ehrlich insisted that Vatican Wars creates opportunities for mutually respectful dialogue, as well as a deeper knowledge of Catholicism.

All players start as priests and earn "stature points" by performing tasks that include prayer, celebrating Mass and counseling their flocks. Becoming a bishop requires, among other things, speaking out about clerical sex abuse. A small fraction eventually qualifies to become cardinals, from whose ranks popes are drawn.

Virtual immersion in the virtuous life inspires greater devotion among Catholics, who account for about 75 percent of players, Ehrlich said. He cited a survey of regular players of the game's pilot version showing that Catholics were more likely to attend Mass and read the Bible in the real world after playing. The pilot, known as PriestVille, did not feature the contest over the five social issues, however.

The same survey showed that the game made young Catholic men more likely to consider entering the seminary and encouraged those already enrolled to stay there.

The Rev. John Kita, a parish priest in Elkland, Pa., wrote to a Knights of Columbus publication earlier this year praising the earlier game as a "great tool to motivate more men to consider the priesthood." Who knows? Someday the real pope could be someone who first held the job in a virtual capacity.

(Source: RNS)

donderdag 28 juli 2011

The secret diary of the most recent conclave

This afternoon I took a room at Casa Santa Marta. Setting down my bags, I tried to open the shades, as the room was dark, but it was impossible. One of my brothers had the same problem, and asked for help from the sisters in charge. He thought it was a technical problem. The sisters explained that the blinds had been sealed shut. Seclusion of the Conclave….A new experience for nearly all of us: out of 115 cardinals, only two had previously participated in the election of a pope....

With these words begin the “secret diary” of the conclave that led to the election of Benedict XVI on 19 April 2005 - the confidential, hand-written notes of an anonymous cardinal upon returning to his room after voting in the Sistine Chapel. This remarkable document, published in the journal Limes, allows a step-by-step reconstruction of the balloting process, raising the veil of secrecy that, by the will of the Popes, has always covered the conclave. From the cardinal’s notes obtained by the journal, we learn first of all that Ratzinger’s candidacy was extremely strong from the beginning.

The seventy-eight year old Bavarian cardinal was the only candidate who could count on the dedicated support of a well-organized group, disproving speculation that Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, contemporary of the new Pope and ex-archbishop of Milan, played a crucial role in the election of Benedict XVI. And consequently, the notes confirm the story published in the Milan daily newspaper Il Giornale the day after the conclave: the only real rival to Ratzinger who could count on a consistent number of votes - up to 40 - was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, the Argentine Jesuit Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

But let’s go by degrees and reconstruct, step-by-step, the timeline of events that took place in the secrecy of the Sistine Chapel in the twenty-four hours starting the afternoon of Monday, 18 April 2005. At eighteen hundred hours, after the 115 cardinals entered the chapel, had been sworn and heard a meditation by the octogenarian Spidlik, the first round of voting begins. The ballots, rectangular and made to be folded in two, are distributed. On the upper half is written Eligo in Summo Pontificem (“I elect as Supreme Pontiff”); on the lower half, a space to write the chosen name.

Each cardinal approaches the metal ballot box, emits a solemn utterance and deposits his ballot. Everything is finished a few minutes after nineteen hundred hours. The negative result of the vote is a given, but the results are surprising. Ratzinger receives forty-seven votes, Bergoglio – and this is the real surprise of the conclave - receives ten. Nine votes go to Martini, six to Camillio Ruini, Vicar General to the Pope and President of the CEI. Four go to Secretary of State Angelo Sodano, three to the cardinal from Honduras, Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, and two to Dionigi Tettamanzi, Martini’s successor in Milan. There are then over thirty votes dispersed among all the cardinals in the conclave, individual votes that do not carry any weight – accordingly, the cardinal-author of the ‘“secret diary” did not note them in his memoir. The smoke is unequivocally black.

After this first vote, the position of the “progressive” wing of the conclave was greatly diminished. They had decided to vote for Martini, a “test candidate,” for the sole purpose of checking to see how many votes he could get. The cardinals left the Sistine Chapel and went to eat. Ratzinger supporters had had a good start, but the Bergoglio surprise hit many electors hard. The archbishop of Buenos Aires is a shy person who avoids TV cameras and does not give interviews. He left the Archbishop’s Palace to live simply and humbly in a small apartment, his character reminiscent in some ways of Pope Luciani. After dinner, they hold small meetings to decide what to do, and above all to convince the undecided. «Small groups, two-three people, there are no big meetings. As in all the hotels, a ban on smoking has been added to the thousand already-existing prohibitions. The Portuguese Cardinal Jose Policarpo da Crux, a famously inveterate smoker, cannot resist and goes outside to light up a good cigar».

The next morning, Tuesday, 19 April, at nine, the 115 cardinals return to Michelangelo’s frescoed Chapel, and under the severe gaze of the figures of the Universal Judgment, pick up their ballots once again. The result of the second vote shows a significant diminution of votes for individual candidates. Ratzinger’s tally climbs to sixty-five (he needs twelve more votes to reach the two-thirds majority needed for election in the first two weeks of conclave) and Bergoglio’s share climbs considerably to thirty-five. Ruini loses all his votes, which go to Ratzinger and not Martini, whose supporters voted for Bergoglio. Only Sodano hangs onto his four votes, and Tettamanzi to his two.

(Source: Andrea Tornielli, La Stampa, Vatican Insider)

woensdag 13 juli 2011

The church's cardinals were scholars, pastors, saints, sinners


The College of Cardinals is the oldest and most exclusive men’s club in the world, and Michael Walsh provides an interesting and entertaining account of some of its remarkable members. Many books have been written on the college, but Walsh focuses on the lives of cardinals who never became popes. This approach allows him to avoid expending precious pages on people whose lives have been extensively described in other books. Instead Walsh introduces us to men who played important but varied roles in the history of the church.

Rather than simply telling their stories in chronological order, Walsh organizes the cardinals by types -- a creative approach that allows him to emphasize themes rather than just recount events from ancient times to the present. But first, Walsh gives the reader a 20-page introduction to the history of the college -- its origins and development as a church institution. Although a treasure for Vatican connoisseurs and specialists, this scholarly chapter with 54 footnotes would have been better placed as an appendix at the back of the book where it would not have scared off average readers simply interested in some good stories.

The introduction gives a quick account of papal elections prior to the institution of the College of Cardinals and then details the development of the college’s role in the election of popes around the beginning of the second millennium. It is a useful and detailed history of the college for those unfamiliar with this development. Those wanting even more detail can peruse the collection of documents available at Salvador Miranda’s Web site at www2.fiu.edu/~mirandas/cardinals.htm.

But what most readers will enjoy in this book are the stories about cardinals that follow the introduction. Walsh groups his cardinals by categories that show how varied they are while still following certain patterns.

The cardinal categories used by Walsh are: “The Precursors” (at the beginning of the second millennium), “The Nearly Men” (who almost became popes), “The Dynasts,” “The Scholar Cardinals,” “The Saints” (very few), “The Pastors,” “Men of War,” “The Politicos,” “Secretaries of State,” “The Exes” (those who resigned), and “Family Men.”

In “The Nearly Men,” we meet those cardinals who were almost popes, including some antipopes. Although talented and well-connected, these men were ultimately the losers in the ecclesiastical game of politics. Included here are Baldassare Cossa (the antipope John XXIII) and the English cardinal Reginald Pole, who failed to get the requisite two-thirds majority because of French opposition.

While Showtime may focus on the Borgia family, in “The Dynasts” Walsh follows the ups and downs of the Colonna family, which had 18 cardinals between 1206 and 1766, although only one of them ever became pope. Their battles with the Orsinis are the stuff of papal history.

“The Scholars,” on the other hand, used their brains rather than family connections to advance in the church. Interestingly, most were not theologians but lawyers. As in civil society, legal training is a good entrée into politics. Nor are there many saints among the cardinals -- in fact the sinners make the more interesting reading. One of the most famous sinners would be Cesare Borgia, whom Walsh treats under “Exes,” since he resigned the cardinalate to marry.

Although the organization of the book by types of cardinals is a help to the reader, Walsh would be the first to acknowledge that some cardinals do not fit easily into one box. Roberto Bellarmino could easily go under either the saints or the scholars. Pietro Gasparri, a secretary of state, was also an accomplished scholar of canon law.

Any book covering a millennium of history is bound to have a few errors that historians will pick at. I noticed, for example, that Walsh has Joseph Bernardin elected general secretary of the U.S. bishops’ conference, when in fact he was appointed by Cardinal John Dearden. But for anyone wanting a sweeping overview of this most colorful and exclusive men’s club, Walsh’s book is the place to start.

(Source: Thomas J. Reese s.j. (National Catholic Reporter)

maandag 4 juli 2011

Angelo Scola, le successeur dont rêve le pape

Dans l'ordre normal des choses, les vaticanistes fourbissent leurs listes de papabili lorsque le pape a éternué à la messe ou qu'il a glissé dans sa baignoire... Par une superbe ironie, c'est un Benoît XVI en pleine forme qui a appuyé sur la gachette des spéculations à propos du prochain conclave. Son coup ? Une nomination très symbolique. Depuis deux ans que le cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi avait dépassé la limite d'âge sur le siège de de Milan, on se demandait qui serait choisi pour lui succéder.

Milan est d'autant plus emblématique que deux de ses archevêques sont devenus papes au XXe siècle: Paul VI et Pie XI. Le suspense a pris fin le 28 juin, lorsque Benoît XVI a nommé le cardinal Angelo Scola. En tant que patriarche de Venise, il était déjà sur un trône qui a porté trois papes contemporains (Pie X, Jean XXIII, Jean-Paul Ier). Si Benoit XVI a voulu le transférer à Milan, c'est pour enfoncer le clou de sa "papabilité".

Loi de continuité depuis Jean XXIII
Angelo Scola, qui aura 70 ans en novembre, était déjà un sérieux papabile en 2005. Il l'est plus que jamais : la loi de continuité que l'on observe depuis Jean XXIII, selon laquelle un pape est choisi en raison de sa proximité avec son prédécesseur, jouerait à plein. Celle du prélat italien avec le pontife bavarois est évidente. Très jeune, Scola a fait partie du vivier intellectuel de la revue Communio, étant lié avec les théologiens Henri de Lubac et Hans Urs von Balthasar. Exactement comme Ratzinger. Celui-ci apprécie aussi les hommes qui, comme lui, ont souffert pour leurs idées. Parce qu'il était membre du mouvement italien Communion et Libération, Scola, originaire de la capitale lombarde, a été renvoyé du séminaire milanais par l'archevêque de l'époque, qui se défiait des apôtres de Don Giussani. En le réinstallant au bercail, Benoît XVI offre à son ami une sainte revanche.

Issu, comme Ratzinger, d'un milieu très simple, Scola a mené une brillante carrière théologique qui l'a mené de l'université de Fribourg à celle du Latran, dont il devient recteur en 1995 après une expérience d'évêque de terrain, en Toscane.

Un Italien pour réformer la curie ?
L'homme peut aussi bien être classé à "droite" sur les questions de famille et de bioéthique, qu'à "gauche" en raison de sa passion pour la doctrine sociale de l’Église et la défense des pauvres. Visionnaire, il a créé une revue de réflexion islamo-chrétienne, Oasis. Scola prône une loyale et sportive compétition spirituelle entre christianisme et islam, à mille lieues de la logique de l'affrontement communautariste ou de l'islamophobie de certains lobbies catholiques, et plaide pour une société métissée.

Sur la liste des papabili, Angelo Scola n'est pourtant pas le seul "ratzingerien d'ouverture" susceptible de monter sur le trône de Pierre. Il faut ici mentionner Mauro Piacenza, 66 ans, l'actuel préfet de la congrégation pour le clergé. Et surtout le Canadien Marc Ouellet, 67 ans, l'ex-archevêque de Québec devenu préfet de la congrégation pour les évêques.

L'urgence d'une modernisation des méthodes de travail du Vatican ferait pencher pour une solution italienne en cas de conclave. Seul un Italien serait en effet en mesure de réformer la curie, paralysée par les arcanes de la culture méditerranéenne. Une montagne que deux valeureux ouvriers, polonais et allemand, ont renoncé à déplacer.

vrijdag 1 juli 2011

Conclave conjecture: Milan appointment triggers 'papabile' speculation

VATICAN CITY (Catholic News Service) The most amusing headline to greet Cardinal Angelo Scola's appointment as archbishop of Milan appeared in a British newspaper: "Pro-Vatican cardinal to head Milan church."

One can pretty well assume that all of the candidates considered for this office would describe themselves as "pro-Vatican." The Italian hierarchy is not full of papal critics or ecclesiastical rebels.

What does distinguish Cardinal Scola is that he is very much in line with the thinking of Pope Benedict XVI. Like the pope, he is a respected theologian who sees a crisis of values in modern society and believes the church must mobilize its resources in resisting this slide.

Both men also view education -- and more specifically, Christian formation -- as a top priority if the church's members are to successfully challenge the secular drift of contemporary culture. For several years in the 1980s and '90s, he was a consultor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The appointment June 28 prompted immediate speculation in the English-language press about Cardinal Scola's "papabile" rating. In fact, many reporters presumed this made the 69-year-old cardinal the leading Italian candidate in a future conclave.

But that he slipped so easily into the front-runner status may say something else: Right now, there is little if any consensus, in Italy or elsewhere, about who the strongest papal candidate would be.

There are several reasons for that. For one thing, Pope Benedict, at 84, shows no signs of ill health, so his possible successor is not something cardinals are worrying about. In addition, the world's cardinals have come together infrequently in recent years; as one cardinal said during the last consistory in 2010, "We really don't know each other very well."

Several cardinals who participated in the previous conclave in 2005 said that serious thought about candidates really takes shape in the daily group meetings of cardinals, called general congregations, that occur after a pope's death.

So although journalists who parachute into Rome tend to speculate about "papabili," most people in Rome and at the Vatican do not have papal tote boards going.

One reason Cardinal Scola's name will automatically figure on lists of papal contenders is that, twice in the last century, archbishops from Milan have been elected pope: Popes Pius XI in 1922 and Paul VI in 1963. Milan remains the country's most important diocese, with nearly 5 million Catholics. And even after two non-Italian popes in a row, many Vatican-watchers still believe the College of Cardinals will look first to the field of Italians when the time comes.

Two other Italian cardinals are often mentioned as potential candidates. One is Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, 68, a biblical scholar and the current head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, who, in fact, demonstrates a huge breadth of culture in his frequent encounters with the press.

Cardinal Ravasi, however, has no experience as a diocesan bishop. His name was rumored to have been considered for Milan, which would have raised his profile considerably.

The other Italian, 67-year-old Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, is also an Argentine, making him, to some observers, the ideal Euro-Latin American hybrid candidate. Born in Argentina to parents of Italian descent, he heads the Vatican's Congregation for Eastern Churches and has served extensively in the Vatican diplomatic corps. But he, too, lacks pastoral experience as the head of a diocese.

Vatican officials tend to dominate pre-conclave speculation because they're more visible on the ecclesiastical landscape, to the press and to the world's cardinals. Many sources said the election of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 2005 was due in part to the fact that most cardinals had met with him several times when he headed the doctrinal congregation, during "ad limina" or other visits to Rome.

Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, 67, who was described by some as a "dark horse" candidate in 2005, is another Vatican official occasionally mentioned in talk of a future conclave. The former archbishop of Quebec, he now heads the Congregation for Bishops.

One established contender is Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, 68, who has headed the Archdiocese of Tegucigalpa since 1993. Considered a leading Latin American candidate in 2005, he has been an energetic pastor at home and an influential voice on social issues in the international arena.

Vatican sources, however, have sometimes tipped another Latin American, 67-year-old Cardinal Juan Cipriani Thorne, as a future candidate for the papacy. A member of Opus Dei, he is a former basketball star and obtained an engineering degree before becoming a priest. As archbishop of Lima, one of Latin America's biggest dioceses, he has amplified the church's voice in political affairs.

Most cardinals on "papabile" lists are in their late 60s, reflecting their high visibility in the prime of their careers. But serious conclave-watchers should also look at a different age group, those in their late 70s. These are cardinals who have been around longer and therefore become better known to their confreres -- just as Cardinal Ratzinger was when he was elected at the age of 78.

There is also a bigger pool of older cardinals to choose from. At present, almost half of the voting-age cardinals are between the ages of 75 and 80. Among them are several names from old "papabile" lists: Cardinals Francis Arinze (Nigeria), Jose Saraiva Martins (Portugal), Claudio Hummes (Brazil) and Dionigi Tettamanzi (who just retired from Milan).

woensdag 29 juni 2011

Cardinal Scola to become Archbishop of Milan, top papabile

Pope Benedict XVI has named Cardinal Angelo Scola to become the Archbishop of Milan.

The appointment, announced on June 28, confirms reports that have circulated in recent days, and puts Cardinal Scola at the top of the list of Pope Benedict’s likely successors.

Cardinal Scola, who is now the Patriarch of Venice, will replace Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, who is retiring at the age of 77. Cardinal Scola will assume his new post in the fall.

The Archdiocese of Milan is the largest see in Italy, in the country’s leading financial and industrial center; the archdiocese has a Catholic population of nearly 5 million, and almost 3,000 priests. The Archbishop of Milan—successor to St. Ambrose and St. Charles Borromeo—has traditionally been a major figure in Italian Catholic affairs. In the 20th century, two archbishops of Milan later became Popes (Pius XI and Paul VI), and two have been beatified (Andrea Ferrari and Alfredo Schuster). The Patriarchate of Venice, where has served since 2002, also produced three Roman Pontiffs in the 20th century: St. Pius X, Blessed John XXIII, and John Paul I.

Born in 1941, Angelo Scola was ordained a priest of the Grosseto diocese in 1991. He was named Bishop of Grosseto in 1991, then rector of the Pontifical Lateran University in 1995. In 2002, Pope John Paul II named him Patriarch of Venice, and a year later the same Pontiff elevated him to the College of Cardinals.

Cardinal Scola has been closely associated with the Communion and Liberation movement, and in fact was once reportedly considered to become the group’s leader. He is also a longtime ally of Pope Benedict XVI, having worked with the future Pontiff on the theological journal Communio. During his tenure in Venice, the cardinal founded another scholarly journal, Oasis, designed to foster dialogue between Christianity and Islam.

dinsdag 28 juni 2011

A papal front-runner may get a boost in Milan

A papal front-runner may get a boost in Milan
By John L Allen Jr
Cardinal Angelo Scola was named this morning as the new head of the Archdiocese of Milan, Italy's largest diocese. Following is a look at who Scola is and what his appointment to Milan might mean. The article was written by NCR senior correspondent John L. Allen, Jr., for the June 24 print issue of National Catholic Reporter, before Scola's appointment was announced.


Sometimes a job is important not only for what its occupant does, but what it symbolizes. In the Catholic church there’s no better example than the archbishop of Milan, Italy, whose incumbent is almost automatically considered tanto papabile, i.e., a leading candidate to become the next pope.

In the 20th century, two archbishops of Milan went on to the papacy, Pius XI and Paul VI, while two others, Cardinals Carlo Maria Martini and Dionigi Tettamanzi, spent more or less their entire tenures surrounded by speculation over their future prospects.

That background makes the current countdown toward Pope Benedict XVI’s choice for who will take over from Tettamanzi, which is expected soon, a matter of interest across the entire Catholic world. According to veteran Vatican writer Andrea Tornielli, the top candidate is an already familiar face: Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice, Italy.

If Scola does indeed go to Milan, he will likely be touted in the media as a sort of crown prince of Catholicism -- the lead item in every story or broadcast about the next conclave, from now until whenever it occurs.

Even without the cachet of the papal sweepstakes, church-watchers have long regarded the 69-year-old Scola as an intriguing figure. He’s very much in sync theologically with the current pontificate, but with a more extroverted personality, a deeply global perspective, and somewhat greater optimism about the church’s prospects in the here and now.

Born in 1941 in Malgrate, Italy, a small town in the Lombardy region, Scola comes from a humble background -- his father was a truck driver, his mother a housewife. He attended the University of the Sacred Heart in Milan in the early 1960s, where he became a friend and disciple of an Italian priest named Msgr. Luigi Giussani, founder of the “Communion and Liberation” movement.

At the time, Italians saw Communion and Liberation as a conservative alternative both to the “Catholic Action” movement and to the broadly progressive ethos of the Milan archdiocese under Cardinals Giovanni Battista Montini (who became Paul VI) and Giovanni Colombo.

Scola later studied at the prestigious University of Fribourg in Switzerland, where his area of interest was theological anthropology. He was drawn to thinkers who had been part of the reform-minded majority at the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), but who later developed reservations about the direction of the postconciliar church. He was especially influenced by Cardinal Henri de Lubac and Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar, and later published book-length interviews with both theologians.

Scola became a cofounder of the Italian edition of Communio, the international theological journal founded as a conservative counterpoint to Concilium, the journal of the council’s progressive wing. From 1986 to 1991, Scola served as a consultor for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, while then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was in charge. In 1995, he was named rector of the Lateran University in Rome.

In 1982 Scola was appointed to the faculty at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, created to defend Catholic teaching on issues such as divorce, artificial reproduction, cloning, homosexuality and abortion. During John Paul’s papacy, figures associated with the institute at The Catholic University of America in Washington served as architects of the struggle against what the late pope described as a “culture of death” in the secular West.

Benedict is himself a longtime admirer of both Giussani and Communion and Liberation; in 2005, shortly before his election to the papacy, he volunteered to lead Giussani’s funeral Mass. To illustrate the influence those ties afford Scola, he was the one who suggested that Benedict consider creating a Vatican department dedicated to “New Evangelization,” which the pontiff promptly did. The idea actually originated with Giussani.

In early May, Scola presided over Benedict’s brief visit to Venice, where the pontiff recalled the three patriarchs of Venice in the 20th century who went on to become popes: Pius X, John XXIII, and John Paul I. (Traditionally the archbishop of Venice carries the title of “Patriarch.”) Though Benedict didn’t connect the dots, the takeaway seemed unmistakable: It could happen again.

Given its history, Venice has always styled itself as a bridge between cultures, and Scola has embraced that legacy since taking over in January 2002. One signature cause is his “Oasis Foundation,” launched in 2004 to promote solidarity among Christians in the Middle East and dialogue with the Islamic world.

In a 2010 interview with NCR, Scola distinguished among three currents in Islam: the moderates, who he said are generally not representative of the Muslim “street”; the radicals, who are not open to dialogue; and “traditional Islam,” meaning the vast majority of observant Muslims generally not represented in official channels of conversation. One aim of Oasis, he said, is to engage traditional Islam.

As opposed to some European prelates, Scola is typically not inclined to handwringing about the “silent apostasy,” in the words of John Paul II, of the West. Instead, Scola tends to believe that Christianity still has culture-shaping capacity, if it finds the nerve to make its case effectively.

That profile has made Scola a point of reference both in the global church and in the Vatican. In 2005, for instance, he served as the relator, or chairman, for the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist.

To be sure, until an official announcement comes down, there’s no guarantee that Scola will wind up in Milan. According to Tornielli’s report, others in the running include Bishop Francesco Lambiasi of Rimini, Italy (where Communion and Liberation’s massive annual meeting takes place); Msgr. Aldo Giordano, the Vatican’s representative to the Council of Europe; and Archbishop Pietro Parolin, a respected former official of the Secretariat of State now serving as the pope’s ambassador in Venezuela.

Yet even if Scola stays put, he could still be a formidable contender heading into a conclave. Without knowing how Milan will shake out, Irish bookmaker Paddy Power already has Scola down as a 6-1 favorite to be the next pope.

No matter what his address over the next few years, therefore, Cardinal Angelo Scola is a prelate well worth tracking.