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Theological Notebook--Conclave Business

They're starting to publish articles and such looking ahead to the conclave now. Here are a few off of the Associated Press that I'll reprint for the curious. I see the first one is talking to Michael Fahey, SJ, who I think is America's best ecclesiologist (theologian who studies the Church) which is why I've gotten him as my dissertation director. In the second one, which in particular looks to speculate on likely candidates, I'll only note that it seems to me that the writer is making a mistake in not even considering or seemingly being aware of those Cardinals who are retired. I've even grabbed this little AP graphic that's supposedly insightful for letting us see the "continental" weight of the Cardinals. I don't know whether the Oceania ones are here called Asian or Australian, so that's not terribly helpful even on its intended level, is it? This is a much more helpful link, which will take you directly to a list of the 117 eligible Cardinals.

Conclave Choosing Pope to Face New Issues

Apr 3, 9:37 PM (ET)


VATICAN CITY (AP) - The last time the College of Cardinals gathered to select a pope, the Cold War dominated the globe, non-European voices in the church were weak and unfocused and dialogue with other faiths was left to second-tier envoys. None of that is true today.

When the cardinals assemble in the Sistine Chapel this month, the questions and priorities considered in selecting the successor of Pope John Paul II will reflect 26 years of profound shifts: the rising influence of African and Latin America clergy, greater pressure to allow married priests after damaging sex scandals and hopes for Vatican leadership in critical outreach between the West and the Muslim world.

These factors - and other internal pressures more difficult to predict - must eventually translate into a name written on the paper ballots used by the cardinals. How quickly a new pontiff emerges will likely be a sign of which issues take prominence in the secret selection process.

During the last conclave in 1978, the worries were largely about communism smothering religion. Now the church must concern itself with how to coexist with Islam and confront radical strains that vilify the West and inspire terrorism.

"The next pope must deal with this in the same way that John Paul II used his authority to help bring down the Berlin Wall," said John Voll, director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University. "The (late) pope brought the papacy onto the geopolitical stage. It cannot retreat."

John Paul set impressive standards. He made unprecedented strides in opening contacts with other Christians, Jews and Muslims, including the first papal to visit a mosque - during a visit to Syria in 2001.

A cardinal considered particularly sensitive to Islamic concerns is Francis Arinze of Nigeria, a nation where clashes between Christian and Muslims have claimed thousands of lives since the late 1990s. But Arinze would force a huge leap: the first African pope in modern times.

Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Belgium also is seen as having a deft diplomatic touch needed for interfaith talks and sensitive issues such as Catholic missionaries in Muslim areas and Islamic rebels in mostly Catholic Philippines, but his liberal-minded views could alarm some conservative cardinals.

Another brand of faith on another continent - Protestant groups and non-denominational evangelicals across Latin America - could also warrant extensive attention during the conclave. For decades, the competition for followers has intensified with Catholic leaders often the losers to more spirited and socially active rivals.

In 2003, John Paul urged members of the Vatican commission for Latin America to fight "the insidious problem of sects" eroding the 500-year-old Catholic traditions in the region. The Italian head of the commission, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, has been mentioned as a possible papal candidate.

Three Latin American prelates - Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes and Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras and Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina - also have developed reputations as strong advocates for greater poverty-fighting programs and activism to counter the popularity of the evangelical churches.

Rodriguez also said the conclave cannot ignore the timely debate over medical ethics, which grabbed the world's attention through the "grotesque spectacle" of the slow death of Terri Schiavo, a severely brain-damaged Florida woman whose feeding tube was removed.

"The challenge for the new pope will be the ethical-medical discussions about genetic manipulation and the attempt to clone a human being," Rodriguez said during a Mass in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa.

Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, also has Italian ancestry, which could become an important compromise point if cardinals are struggling over whether to maintain a non-Italian papacy or return to its traditional roots.

Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, the archbishop of Milan, is considered a possible contender if the papacy goes to an Italian. There could be a sentimental pull since his predecessor, 78-year-old Cardinal Carlo Martini, was once highly touted as a possible papal candidate, but retired in 2002 and is now generally considered too old - and too liberal - for serious consideration.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who heads a powerful Vatican panel that watches over doctrine, is also mentioned as a possible "transitional" pope who would adhere closely to John Paul II's conservative views.

John Paul appointed all but three of the cardinals under 80 years old, the cutoff for participation in the conclave. But that doesn't ensure the new pope will carry on his outlook, some experts believe.

"I don't think you'll see a clone of the pope," said the Rev. Michael Fahey, a theologian at Marquette University who studies papal elections. "There are a lot of independent opinions from those who want a different emphasis by the Vatican."

High on the list could be greater sensitivity to the fallout from priest sex scandals that have battered the church in the United States, Europe and elsewhere. John Paul effectively closed the door on easing rules for priestly celibacy, which some Vatican critics consider a major obstacle to encouraging vocations.

Celibacy is a deeply rooted tradition in the church, but not an issue of immutable doctrine. In 1980, the late pope allowed married Episcopal clergy to join the Catholic Church and serve as priests. Married priests are common among Eastern Rite Catholics, which follow many Orthodox traditions but are loyal to the Vatican.

Liberal cardinals, however, may seek a pope willing to tackle more immediate concerns: possible greater roles for non-ordained deacons and participation of women in parish affairs. In a small, but highly visible, concession to liberals, John Paul II permitted altar girls and women - a widespread practice in the United States and some parts of Europe.

"The last thing they would want, for example, is a pope who would decide to get rid of altar girls," wrote the Rev. Thomas Reese, editor of America, a weekly Catholic magazine based in New York. "The American cardinals would also want someone who understands and supports what they are doing to deal with the sexual abuse crisis."

American cardinals also are at the forefront of appeals for more autonomy to run local affairs. There is almost no chance for an American pope, but the 11 U.S. cardinals could have important sway over the outcome.

"There is a strong desire for the church to be less centralized," said Fahey. "This will definitely play a role in the papal discussions."

But if it becomes a strong demand, it could hurt the papal chances for Vatican-based cardinals such as Arinze and Cardinal Walter Kasper of Germany, who runs the Vatican's commission on Christian unity.

Other issues that could influence the conclave include calls for reviewing the opposition to artificial birth control and use of condom use to prevent AIDS.

"John Paul II was the pope of the end of the postwar era," said Orazio Petrosillo, who covered the pope for Rome's Il Messaggero newspaper. "The new pope must address our modern world."

Guessing Game Begins on Pope's Successor

Apr 3, 6:08 PM (ET)


VATICAN CITY (AP) - Roman Catholics and others began to speak out Sunday about their hopes - and expectations - for a new pope, as the intense guessing game began over who would succeed John Paul II in leading the Church.

Only one thing is certain: The cardinals must decide whether to follow John Paul II with another non-Italian or hand the papacy back to its traditional caretakers.

Cardinal Bernard Panafieu, one of five French prelates with a papal vote, said Sunday he was hoping for someone "who dynamizes the people - God's people - as John Paul II did. At the same time, a man who has an international sense, of the opening of Catholicism to the world. An open man and at the same time, a man faithful to the great traditions of the Church."

The Polish-born John Paul was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years and brought a new vitality to the Vatican, challenging parochial attitudes throughout the church. One view - echoed from outside Roman Catholicism by Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu - holds that the papal electors will want to maintain the spirit by recognizing the Roman Catholic influence outside Europe in Latin America and Africa.

"We hope that perhaps the cardinals when they meet will follow the first non-Italian pope by electing the first African pope," Tutu said Sunday from Cape Town, South Africa.

Another theory suggests that the Italians will press to reclaim the papacy after John Paul's 26-year reign - the third-longest in history.

There is no clear favorite when the 117 cardinals begin their secret conclave later this month.

But names often mentioned as "papabile" - the Italian word for possible papal candidates - include Cardinal Francis Arinze, a Vatican-based Nigerian, and Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes.

Arinze, 72, converted to Roman Catholicism as a child and shares some of John Paul's conservative views on contraception and family issues. But he brings a unique element: representing a nation shared between Muslims and Christians at the time when interfaith relations assume growing urgency. If elected, he would be the first black pope of modern times.

Hummes, 70, is archbishop of Sao Paolo, Brazil, and urges more attention to fighting poverty and the effects of a globalized economies. His supporters note that Brazil's role as a Latin American political and economic heavyweight could help the Vatican counter the popularity of emerging evangelical churches in the region.

Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodiguez Maradiaga of Honduras, the 62-year-old archbishop of Tegucigalpa, is also mentioned as a possible candidate. But he could be too much of a break for Vatican conservatives. He has studied clinical psychology and has a dynamic, outspoken style.

Among Italians, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, the archbishop of Milan, is a moderate with natural pastoral abilities and an easy style that appeals to the young. But Tettamanzi, 71, is not considered widely traveled and some critics believe he could impose too strong an Italian outlook.

Other Italians widely mentioned as possible candidates include: Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice, 63, who is relatively young and brings a cosmopolitan flair from his city, a historic cultural crossroads; and Giovanni Battista Re, 71, who has served as president of the Vatican commission for Latin America since 2001.

Within Europe, several cardinals are seen as possible rising stars, potentially able to win support in the way Karol Wojtyla, then archbishop of Krakow, Poland, did in the 1978 conclave that elevated him to pope. They include: Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the 69-year-old archbishop of Vienna, Austria, who is multilingual and has diplomatic flair, and Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, 71, who is well known in political and diplomatic circles.

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, another French elector, said Sunday he hoped for a powerful figure to follow John Paul.

"When you see his face, and when you hear him speak, you should have the impression like that made by the arrival of John Paul II in October 1978: 'Wow, here you can see Christ come among us,'" Barbarin said in an interview with radio network France Inter.

Europe has the biggest bloc with 58 papal electors - cardinals under 80 years old. Italy alone has 20.

Latin America has 21 and Africa brings 11. The United States also has 11 cardinals and could sway the voting if they remain united. An American pope, however, is considered a virtual impossibility because of the Vatican would avoid any such a deep and complicated association with the world's sole superpower.

Any other forecast would find itself on shaky ground.

One only has to recall that after two days and eight rounds of voting 26 years ago, the name of Karol Wojtyla - never mentioned as a serious candidate - was announced to the crowd in St. Peter's Square. Many there were baffled.
Tags: benedict xvi, catholicism, conclave, fahey, john paul ii, papacy, theological notebook

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