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Theological Notebook: Sunday Morning's Conclave News, pt.2

A more interesting lot of articles from this morning, opening with Kasper's homily, along with some last-minute ecclesiastical-political assessments, and even a bit on the papacy as perceived in popular art and imagination.


Germany's Kasper: No need for 'clone' of John Paul II


By Stacy Meichtry
Rome

After a week of nonstop reports that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s papal prospects were being pushed by prelates in search of doctrinal continuity with John Paul II, the man widely recognized as the theological czar’s leading opponent in the Roman Curia came forward and called on the faithful to not pine for a “clone” of John Paul II.

In a candid sermon before hundreds at Santa Maria in Trastevere, Cardinal Walter Kasper of Germany aimed to debunk perceptions that John Paul’s legacy should be seen as a litmus test for future popes.

“Just as it is forbidden to clone others, it is not possible to clone pope John Paul II,” Kasper said. “Every pope ministers in his own way, according to the demands of his era. No one was ever simply a copy of his predecessor.”

Italian newspapers are reporting that a dominant faction of John Paul loyalists has emerged in the College of Cardinals and picked Ratzinger as their front-runner. Reform-minded moderates, meanwhile, have failed to unite behind a single candidate.

On Saturday Corriere della Sera of Milan described Kasper as a core member of the moderate wing that is now moving to block Ratzinger’s candidacy.

As the head of the Vatican’s ecumenical affairs office, Kasper has openly sparred with Ratzinger over the years. He was a vocal critic of Ratzinger’s Dominus Iesus, a document that reasserted the superiority of Catholicism over other faiths and Christian denominations. He has also called for curial reform and decentralization of Vatican power, positions that contrast sharply with Ratzinger’s autocratic reputation.

Rivalry between the two Germans can be traced back to their native country when Kasper, as a bishop in Rottenburg-Stuttgart, backed a pastoral letter encouraging divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to take sacraments. Ratzinger, already John Paul’s theological watchdog, rejected the letter.

Some Vatican watchers consider Kasper a dark horse candidate for the papacy. Since John Paul’s death, many cardinals have identified curial reform and collegiality as top concerns. Kasper is highly regarded for the combination of pastoral and curial experience he brings to the conclave.

Although Kasper is known as an atypically open curial official, he has kept a low profile since John Paul’s death. According to a spokesman for the Community of St. Egidio, a progressive religious movement that organized Saturday’s Mass, Kasper was scheduled to officiate at Santa Maria in Trastevere two months ago, prior to John Paul’s final health crisis.

On Saturday, Kasper opened his sermon with candid reflections. “It’s easy to guess what I’m thinking about. We are about to elect a new pope in next week’s conclave,” he said. While Kasper was cautious to avoid going into description on the next pope, he concentrated a large portion of his homily on the importance of finding a candidate with strong pastoral skills—a quality that some say Ratzinger lacks.

“Like the Gospel says, the pastor needs familiarity, mutual caring and reciprocal trust between him and his flock,” Kasper said. “Let’s not search for someone who is too scared of doubt and secularity in the modern world.”

Earlier Saturday, the Vatican’s official spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls continued to deny the existence of pre-conclave politicking. In a characteristically terse statement that announced the closing of the General Congregation, he reported that the rapport between the cardinals’ at the daily pre-conclave meetings had been “one of great familiarity.”

“That allowed them to find great consensus on the general themes faced in the discussions,” he said, adding: “I can also confirm that in no congregation were names ever brought up.”


Cardinals May Want Pope to Bridge Divides


Apr 17, 4:29 AM (ET)

By VICTOR L. SIMPSON

VATICAN CITY (AP) - The worldwide outpouring of affection for Pope John Paul II may have convinced the cardinals choosing his successor that today's Roman Catholic Church has no room for a so-called "transitional" leader.

The profile of a pope who knows how to communicate and to bridge cultural and religious divides fits a number of the 115 cardinals assembling in the conclave that begins Monday. Those contenders include Brazil's Claudio Hummes, Argentina's Jorge Bergoglio and Austria's Christoph Schoenborn.

Both Hummes, 70, and Bergoglio, 68, have been highly visible advocates for the poor, questioning the benefits of globalization and free-market policies. Schoenborn is the model of a modern churchman - a multilingual scholar who has reached out to Jews, Muslims and Orthodox Christians - although at 60 he may be considered too young.

Certainly, the election of Hummes or another Latin American could have a profound impact on the region, home to nearly half the world's 1 billion Roman Catholics, which is facing a strong challenge from evangelical Protestants and social tensions from the growing divide between rich and poor.

Much as the election of Poland's John Paul marked the church's response to communism in eastern Europe during the Cold War, the election of an able Latin American could signal the church's stand in support of the world's poor and oppressed.

The election of a cardinal like German Joseph Ratzinger, 78, whose stock appeared high as the cardinals gathered in Rome for John Paul's funeral, would mean a transition papacy. The selection of Hummes or another younger man would be a sign that the cardinals want to keep up John Paul's dynamism.

In interviews published in the most recent issue of the Jesuit weekly America, several cardinals described the qualities required of the next pontiff.

Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles dismissed the possibility of a pope from such countries as France or Germany, where "practically nobody goes to church."

"What we are looking for is how to have the future pope be somebody who represents a dynamic part of the world," Mahony said.

Cardinal Julius Darmaatmadja of Indonesia said John Paul "was accepted as a human being and as a moral leader" by people of different religions. The next pope will be someone who can bridge the differences and communicate with people of different cultures, he said.

By official Italian count, more than 3 million pilgrims streamed past the body of Pope John Paul II as he lay in state in St. Peter's Basilica. David Gibson, a former Vatican radio newsman and author of "The Coming Catholic Church," said the public displays for John Paul "recalibrated" the cardinals' views.

"I think there was a realization that they have to make a more dramatic move than they would have before," Gibson said.

"The thing it made them realize is how much John Paul personalized the papacy and made it authority by charisma, so there's a sense that you need someone who can also wield authority by who he is, rather than just what he said."

From their records, no one under consideration as the next pope shows any break with John Paul's stand against contraception, his campaigns against abortion and gay marriage or his opposition to women priests or a non-celibate priesthood.

Those close to Hummes in Brazil, however, believe he would be a balanced pontiff.

"He would be a modern pope who will know how to balance traditional Christian ideas with concern for the poor," said Lourdes Hummes Graf, the cardinal's cousin.

Hummes' reputation has been strengthened by his long support for Brazil's working class. As a bishop 30 years ago, he gave refuge to metalworkers staging an illegal strike - among them a fiery union leader named Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is now Brazil's president.

Bergoglio's critics say he did not take a strong enough stand against Argentina's 1976-83 military dictatorship, but his defenders say his opposition came behind the scenes. In 2000, he led an effort by the church seeking public forgiveness for its inaction - in line with John Paul's frequent calls for the church to recognize its failings.

In Buenos Aires, a human rights lawyer, Marcelo Parrilli, also filed a criminal complaint against Bergoglio on Friday, accusing him of involvement in the 1976 kidnappings of two priests. No specifics were given and the cardinal's spokesman rejected the allegations, calling them "old slander."

A transitional pope would presumably keep travel down, in contrast to the 104 foreign pilgrimages John Paul made during his 26-year papacy, but even he would apparently already be locked into at least one trip.

The German church, a major financial contributor to the Vatican, has gone ahead in organizing a youth event in August in Cologne that John Paul had agreed to attend. Hundreds of thousands of youths are expected and millions of dollars have already been spent.


Cardinals Align as Time Nears to Select Pope


April 17, 2005
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN and IAN FISHER for the New York Times

ROME, April 16 - There was never doubt that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican's hard-line defender of the faith, would have a strong hand in selecting the next pope. But in the days of prayer and politics before the conclave, which begins on Monday, he has emerged as perhaps the surprise central figure: the man who could become the 265th pope, choose him or be the one other cardinals knock from the running.

Any talk of who will become the next pope is guesswork, echoes from cardinals and their staffs sworn to silence about one of the world's most elite and secretive gatherings.

But one bit of wisdom has emerged in the Italian press as conventional: that Cardinal Ratzinger, a German close to John Paul II, has up to 50 votes among the 115 elector cardinals, or at least that is the strength his supporters claim.

That is short of the two-thirds, or 77 votes, needed in the early stages of voting. Still, he appears to command the largest and most cohesive block, and at a minimum, it seems unlikely that the next pope will be chosen without his blessing.

But interviews with more than a dozen Vatican experts and church officials suggest that forces are lining up against Cardinal Ratzinger - who, at 78, may be judged too old, too uncharismatic and, perhaps most important, too rigid to hold together a polarized church that is a billion people strong.

Some believe the church needs a more moderate man, a less authoritarian leader or one from outside of Europe.

"Ratzinger represents continuity - he was the right-hand man of the pope," said Giuseppe De Carli, head of Italian public television's Vatican bureau, who in recent years has interviewed most of 115 cardinals who will begin the secretive process of selecting the new pope on Monday.

"But the cardinals need both continuity and discontinuity," he added. "They can't create a pope that will be the photocopy of the preceding one."

Some experts say that is precisely the problem: that Cardinal Ratzinger has ambitions higher than being a photocopy of John Paul.

Based on Cardinal Ratzinger's record and pronouncements, his agenda seems clear. Inside the church, he would like to impose more doctrinal discipline, reining in priests who experiment with liturgy or seminaries that permit a broad interpretation of doctrine. Outside, he would like the church to assert itself more forcefully against the trend he sees as most threatening: globalization leading eventually to global secularization.

But some cardinals worry that it is healing, not confrontation, that the church needs. Most cardinals eligible to vote are now refusing media interviews - a consequence of the media blackout the cardinals decided to impose eight days ago. But some are talking on background to Vatican colleagues, church scholars, leaders of Catholic organizations and to Italian journalists who specialize in covering the Vatican. The New York Times spoke with several cardinals and more than a dozen people in recent contact with the cardinals. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The top candidate of the forces opposing the Ratzinger bloc appears to be Dionigi Tettamanzi of Milan, who could also have a chance of peeling off a few votes from the Ratzinger camp. His profile offers a little something for each flank. A conservative moral theologian who has written on bioethics, he collaborated with John Paul on the encyclical laying out the justifications for opposing abortion, birth control and euthanasia.

In recent years, however, Cardinal Tettamanzi has began to sound off on issues of poverty and social justice. When protesters went to Genoa, Italy, for the Group of 8 summit meeting of industrialized nations in 2001, he spoke to the crowd on the evils of globalization.

Sandro Magister, a Vatican expert who the cardinal writes for L'Espresso magazine, said the cardinal could unite conservatives and liberals. "He is an exponent of compromise, but a real honest conservative," Mr. Magister said.

The interviews suggest that the standard-bearer for the liberals among the anti-Ratzinger forces is, at least for the moment, the retired archbishop of Milan, Carlo Maria Martini. There is a strange sort of symmetry to the two men: both are 78-year-old scholars with stratospheric intellects who command the respect of their colleagues.

But Cardinal Martini appears to control far fewer votes. He has said he has not ruled out changes to priestly celibacy or the bans on contraception and on women serving as deacons. He has a form of Parkinson's disease and, unlike Cardinal Ratzinger, is not considered an active candidate. Experts say that while he respects Cardinal Ratzinger, Cardinal Martini does not support his vision of the church.

"Martini," said Alberto Melloni, a papal historian, "thinks that if the church does not move on in terms of doctrine, it is condemned to lose the content of Christian truth."

If the cardinals could start from scratch and order up the perfect pope, the candidate to lead the Roman Catholic Church of 2005 might look like this:

Charismatic and basically conservative. Intellectual but accessible. Speaks Italian, Spanish and English. Not too old, not too young, since the cardinals want neither a 26-year papacy like John Paul's nor a pope who will be bedridden in two or three years. A pastor, but one familiar with Vatican bureaucracy. Someone willing to let local bishops go their own way - within limits. Perhaps he would be from the third world, where the church is growing, but he has ties to Europe and could reinvigorate the flagging faith there.

Holding this template against the men in the running gives some clues, with the caution that the candidate who comes closest does not necessarily win. Politicking will also play a major role - and at this moment the central player is indisputably Cardinal Ratzinger.

A close associate of John Paul for nearly 30 years, he has a soft voice, a shy manner and a full head of white hair. Friends say that he gets wrongly portrayed as "God's Rottweiler" and that he is actually a warm and spiritual man.

"In the last months of John Paul's papacy, Ratzinger was visible as the supporting column of the church, and so they are following him," Mr. Magister said.

Several church sources said Cardinal Ratzinger had the support of an international array of cardinals, including Francis George of Chicago; Christoph Schönborn of Austria; Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina; Camillo Ruini and Angelo Scola of Italy; and Marc Ouellet of Quebec.

But some cardinals said in interviews before this week that he might centralize power even more than John Paul, just when many cardinals are hoping for their local dioceses to have a greater say in their affairs.

Cardinal Martini's progressive bloc could not wield enough votes to block Cardinal Ratzinger. But the opposition is being joined, several Vatican watchers said, by other groups, in particular a group of Italian cardinals, who by several accounts include Angelo Sodano, John Paul's last secretary of state, and Giovanni Battista Re, who had been in charge of bishops under the late pope.

The members of the Ratzinger contingent are well aware that their candidate may lose, and so are ready to shift their votes. The most obvious backup, several experts said, is Cardinal Ruini, the vicar of Rome.

He is as a forceful figure in Italian politics, opposing rights for gays and lesbians and some forms of assisted reproduction, and supporting immigrants' rights.

But he faces the opposition of those Italian cardinals supporting Cardinal Tettamanzi, so other Ratzinger protégés could emerge.

One is Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina, a conservative Jesuit who early in his career distanced himself from proponents of liberation theology. Born to Italian parents, he could be a bridge between Latin America and Europe.

A second is Cardinal Scola, patriarch of Venice, a scholar and a tireless pastor. He has spotless conservative credentials, softened by a grass-roots style.

Another is Cardinal Schönborn of Vienna. An aristocrat, he has often made lists of potential popes because of his intellect, language skills and conservatism, but his administrative skills may seem lacking.

The Latin American cardinals, with 18 percent of the cardinal electors, match the strength of the Italians. But they do not all share the same vision of the church's needs. Nor, it seems, are they all rooting for the home team.

Alejandro Bermúdez, the Peruvian editor in chief of ACI Prensa, a Catholic news agency in Latin America, said those prelates held no conviction that the next pope must be from Latin America. "They would not be opposed to it," he said, "but at this time it is not their priority."

Still, several Latin Americans were frequently mentioned as strong candidates: Cardinal Bergoglio; Claudio Hummes of Brazil, a progressive who moved to the right; and Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras, a conservative on social issues.

Also mentioned were Norberto Rivera Carrera, archbishop of Mexico, who at 62 may be considered too young, and Juan Sandoval Iñíguez, 72, archbishop of Guadalajara.

With so many candidates and so much apparent division, another familiar situation is looking more and more possible.

In the last conclave in 1978, Vatican-watchers had concocted lists of potential popes 20 to 30 names long, hoping that would cover all the possibilities. But Karol Wojtyla, the cardinal from Poland who became Pope John Paul II after three days, made practically none of them.

"Do not underestimate the power of the microculture that is generated among the cardinals when they are together," said Mr. Bermúdez, the Peruvian editor. "The kind of reflections that end up influencing them are completely unpredictable."

Elisabetta Povoledo of the International Herald Tribune contributed reporting for this article.



Cardinals leaving St. Peter's Basilica after a Mass ending the mourning period for Pope John Paul II. Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press



Cardinals Finish Preparations for Conclave


April 17, 2005
By DANIEL J. WAKIN for the New York Times

ROME, April 16 - The cooks and elevator operators have been sworn to secrecy. A smokestack has been placed on the Sistine Chapel's roof. And on Saturday, the cardinals who will elect Pope John Paul II's successor held their last formal meeting.

Most details have been tied up ahead of Monday's conclave, the secret gathering of the princes of the church that will end when white smoke emerges to signal that they have chosen a new pope.

Saturday was also the end of the official nine days of mourning for John Paul that began with his funeral on April 8. And the cardinals watched as John Paul's Fisherman's Ring, a symbol of the papacy, was destroyed.

Joaquín Navarro-Valls, the Vatican spokesman, said the cardinals had conducted their final gathering Saturday morning in an atmosphere of "great familiarity."

Dr. Navarro-Valls said no individual candidates for the papacy were discussed during the meetings. But several cardinals, their aides and Vatican analysts have all said that such discussions were liberally taking place outside the meetings.

After the cardinals move into their sequestered residence during the conclave, Santa Marta, on Sunday, they will have dinner together there, the spokesman said.

Dr. Navarro-Valls said the cardinals' procession into the Sistine Chapel on Monday would be televised by the Vatican, along with their taking the oath of secrecy and obedience to the rules of papal succession.

He said Vatican security officials had ensured that there would be no leaks about the highly secretive proceedings, and hinted that measures had been taken to prevent cellphone reception. "Try testing them when you go into the Sistine Chapel," he told reporters who were later given a special tour on Saturday.

And in fact, cellphones did not work, as they usually do. A Swiss guard said a jamming device had been placed under the platform floor in the chapel.

A three-foot-high metal stove that is used to burn the ballots, with the dates of past conclaves etched on its surface, sat in the front part of the chapel. Scaffolding held the bright copper stove pipe that will emit black or white smoke to signal the election's outcome. Another device that looked like a more modern stove sat next to it and was connected to the stove pipe, apparently to speed up the movement of smoke. Two fire extinguishers stood nearby.

On Friday, workers installed a narrow smokestack on the roof to be linked to the stove pipe.

Staff members and others involved in the conclave took an oath of secrecy the same day.

They included important clerics but also priests assigned to hear the cardinals' confessions, waiters and cleaning staff, the bus drivers shuttling the cardinals between Santa Marta and the Sistine Chapel, and elevator operators who will bring the cardinals to the chapel.



The conclave of cardinals, with its diverse makeup and secret procedings, may be the ideal way to choose the next pope of the Roman Catholic church. Mario Tama/Getty Images



Even Cardinals Are Prone to Peer Pressure


April 17, 2005
By HENRY FOUNTAIN for The New York Times

TOMORROW, 115 of the most powerful Roman Catholic officials in the world will be locked into the Vatican, where they will live and breathe church issues, and personalities, 24 hours a day until they elect a successor to Pope John Paul II.

The conclave of cardinals will take place amid extraordinary secrecy and seclusion. No phone calls, letters or e-mail messages will be allowed - and certainly no "Survivor"-style camera crews asking the cardinals to explain their vote during each round of balloting.

These events are so secret that it is difficult for anyone outside the college of cardinals itself to fully know what goes on, at least for years afterward. One expert in organizational behavior described a papal conclave as "utterly opaque" and compared it, jokingly, to trying to understand the government of North Korea.

Although this is no ordinary deliberative body - and the cardinals no ordinary citizens - those who study group dynamics say that when the conclave begins, some ordinary things are likely to occur.

Being a cardinal "doesn't exempt you from basic psychological things happening," said Richard Moreland, a psychology professor at the University of Pittsburgh. And one basic psychological thing that happens in groups is that some members accede to the desires of others.

"Conformity is a big thing," Dr. Moreland said. There are two types: informational conformity, where one person believes others know best, and normative conformity, where fear of rejection or of loss of status is the driving force.

Some cardinals already have greater leadership roles; they travel and meet with other high church officials regularly. So informational conformity may play a role. Because well-connected cardinals may be perceived as having better access to information, they may hold sway over colleagues who work in relative isolation.

The influence may become apparent soon after the conclave starts. "One thing we know about groups is that they do tend to form status hierarchies very quickly," said Dr. Philip Tetlock, a professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Moreland said the first ballot was important. "People will pay close attention," he said. "You might start to have coalitions in favor of certain candidates."

Coalition-forming will no doubt be spurred by the politicking that took place before the conclave. In interviews with the news media and in homilies during the days surrounding the pope's funeral, some cardinals tried to make a case, subtly, for one of their peers. Or for themselves.

But once the cardinals are inside, modern institutions like the media are forgotten. The college of cardinals has been charged with electing the pope for almost 1,000 years, and the first secluded conclave was held more than 700 years ago. The voting rules - the winner must receive a majority of two-thirds plus one - have existed with slight changes since 1179, although Pope John Paul II introduced a major change in 1996, requiring only a simple majority after a certain number of ballots.

The leaders who established the process seemed to know what they were doing. Indeed, a conclave might be close to the ideal group, said James Surowiecki, author of "The Wisdom of Crowds," about decision-making and group dynamics. "It's geographically and theologically diverse," he said. "And diversity is very important for groups to make smart decisions."

Dr. Moreland said the secrecy, which extends to the voting - cardinals are urged to disguise their handwriting when filling out ballots - may also help the process.

"You get much less conformity when people can respond anonymously," he said. "If nobody can tell you're defying the group, you have much less to fear."

Mr. Surowiecki said some members of the group may still "go along" with those of higher status, or those who are more talkative, or more confident. But higher status and verbosity do not necessarily correlate with greater intelligence or insight.

"The real paradox of group intelligence is that groups are smartest when everyone is acting as much like an individual as possible," Mr. Surowiecki said.

In the past, that has not always been possible. The conclave process was established in part to shelter against political or nationalist pressures, with limited success. Until the early 1900's, some Catholic nations had the right to veto a papal candidate.

Other pressures of a more physical nature have also been brought to bear. During a 13th-century conclave in Viterbo, Italy, one that might best be described as interminable (it lasted almost three years), the townspeople finally got fed up. They removed the palace roof to expose the cardinals to the elements, and sent in only bread and water. The deadlock quickly broke, and a layman was elected Pope Gregory X; he accomplished much in his five-year reign.

But there is no guarantee that the cardinals will make a good choice. Jerry B. Harvey, an emeritus professor of business at George Washington University, knows how a bad choice could happen. He has described what he calls the "Abilene paradox," when the pressure to conform based on fear makes people do things they don't want to do. (The name comes from a nightmarish car trip his family once took in Texas; when they got to Abilene, they realized that no one had wanted to go.) Dr. Harvey said he could imagine a situation in which the cardinals "would select somebody they'd all agree they didn't want."

It actually helps that the cardinals don't ordinarily spend a lot of time together. "If you know one another and don't want to rock the boat with each other," he said, "you end up going to Abilene."


Cardinals Prepare for a Difficult Choice


Apr 17, 4:28 AM (ET)

By BRIAN MURPHY

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Behind the thick oak doors of the Sistine Chapel, the cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church will do more than pick the next pope. Their deliberations - which begin Monday - also serve as a critical judgment on what the faith needs most as pressures close in from all directions.

The cardinals often mentioned as possible papal successors have already made their voices heard - addressing the world's 1.1 billion Catholics and their fellow red-hatted "princes of the church" expected at the first conclave in more than a quarter century.

Every speech, text and public gesture has been pored over in recent years for clues about each man's style and priorities.

"They must pick the 21st century pope and address 21st century questions," said the Rev. Giovanni D'Ercole, a commentator on Vatican affairs. "It may not be easy."

On one end is the blunt tone of the German theologian-scholar Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who has taken on everything from rock music to Muslim Turkey's European Union bid in his role as the Vatican's chief watchdog for doctrine. He may be the only papal prospect with an online fan club.

A more nuanced path is followed by Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, who has reached out to Islamic leaders but also has encouraged Jewish settlement of the Holy Land. The Latin Americans considered "papabile" - the Italian word for papal candidates - speak forcefully about confronting poverty.

But none have signaled any support for major policy reversals such as easing opposition to contraception or dropping priestly celibacy. It's a fact that pro-reform Catholics are slowly absorbing: Priests do not rise to cardinal by challenging the system.

The conclave, with 115 cardinals under the age of 80 and eligible to vote, must juggle multiple demands and make some hard choices. With no clear papal favorite, the outcome likely will be about compromise and what new priorities attract the biggest following.

There's geography: Do they note that nearly half the world's Catholics are in Latin America and select a "new world" pope for the first time? Or reward the vibrant African Catholics with a pope of their own? Or choose a leader who could reinvigorate a fading flock in Europe?

There are internal dilemmas, including how to reverse the priest and nun shortage in the West, stabilize the money-losing Vatican finances and restore credibility following crippling clergy sex scandals in the United States and elsewhere. The cardinals also must ask: Who among them can handle the important dialogue with Islam and other contemporary moral quandaries like cloning and biotechnology?

Rising above it all may be the powerful legacy of the charismatic Pope John Paul II. The cardinals heard the cries from pilgrims last week at the pontiff's funeral: "Santo subito!" - meaning make him a saint immediately.

"The church cannot go backward," said Fernando Segovia, a theologian at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. "The new pope must be someone who also can relate to the people as a pastor and leader. This could be the biggest force in the conclave. If the cardinals ignore this momentum, the church could suffer a serious blow."

The process begins Monday with a special Mass. Then comes the conclave. The cardinals are cut off from the rest of the world until they reach a decision.

Cardinals will decide after taking their oath Monday whether they will take a first vote that day or wait until Tuesday. Then it's four rounds a day until two-thirds of the cardinals - at least 77 - back one name. If no pope emerges late in the second week, a simple majority can vote to change the rules so a winner can be elected by a majority - at least 58.

It took eight ballots over three days in October 1978 to elect the first Polish pope. The prelate who appears this time in the central window of St. Peter's Basilica will be caught in the reflected glare of John Paul's history-making papacy.

His every move will - at least initially - be measured against John Paul. As one placard read last week in St. Peter's Square: "What would JP-Two do?"

But the late pope's decisive moments came during the Cold War. His successor inherits a very different world.

The world's richest nations "must search an alternative global program where all have the possibility to integrate themselves and no one remains outside," Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes said in 2002. "There will be no future if things go on as they now stand."

A book of 110 newspaper columns written by Hummes - ranging from land reform to drug abuse to human cloning - was released last week in Brazil to capitalize on the buzz about him as a contender.

The book, "Dialogue with the City," includes harsh denunciations of "greedy and powerful" landholders who police believe ordered the February slaying of American nun Dorothy Stang, a longtime defender of land rights for poor settlers in the Amazon rain forest.

Hummes, 70, also holds the line on Catholic teachings regarding abortion and human cloning, which he called a "serious moral crime."

In September 2003, Hummes told a U.N. meeting on AIDS that it is "one of the major tragedies of our time," but must be addressed by education and sexual abstinence rather than condoms.

Another Latin American cardinal, Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, 62, of Honduras, also has lashed out at inequalities.

"We are not moving simply toward a globalization of markets ... but we are moving toward the globalization of poverty," he said in 2003.

But some of his sharpest - and most conflicted - comments have come following the priest sex abuse scandals in the United States. In a 2002 Vatican news conference, he called pedophilia an "illness" that cannot be tolerated in the priesthood. In a later interview with the Italian magazine 30 Giorni, or 30 Days, he decried the judicial "witch hunts" against U.S. clergy.

"(It) reminds me of the time of Nero, Diocletian and, more recently, of Stalin and Hitler," he was quoted as saying.

Italian Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, 71, told the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano in 1997 that "very grave personal and social risks" stem from giving gay and lesbian couples full civil rights such as marriage and adoption.

Another Italian contender, Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice, 63, carries a similar conservative outlook. On calls for women priests, Scola told reporters in 1997: "The church does not have the power to modify the practice, uninterrupted for 2,000 years, of calling only men."

Cardinal Francis Arinze, 72, a Vatican-based Nigerian, also taken a hard stance against liberal pressures on the church led by American Catholics.

The family is "mocked" by homosexuality and calls to recognize gay marriages, he told a Georgetown University audience in May 2003. Last year, Arinze suggested Catholic politicians supporting abortion are "not fit" to receive Communion. He made the same judgment for militant members of Rainbow Sash, a Roman Catholic gay rights group that has tried to provoke confrontations with clergy.

Arinze, however, stands out as a leading voice for better Christian-Muslim dialogue - a central part of his interfaith work at the Vatican since the 1980s.

"It matters very much, not only to Islam and Christianity, but also to the world how the followers of these two religions relate to one another and how they envisage these relationships at this turning point in history," Arinze told the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in Washington.

Schoenborn, of Austria, could encounter more skepticism from Islamic leaders.

In a March speech at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, he said Christians must support a Jewish presence in the Holy Land as part of biblical prophecy.

"Only once in human history did God take a country as an inheritance and give it to His chosen people," The Jerusalem Post quoted Schoenborn as saying.

Schoenborn added that "we are all longing" for a solution to end Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But he's been less clear on hot button issues in Europe, including whether to accept Turkey as a full EU member.

Ratzinger, however, has been an unwavering defender of Europe's Christian essence.

"Turkey has always represented a different continent, in permanent contrast to Europe," he told the French magazine Le Figaro last year.

Ratzinger - as the Vatican's chief doctrinal overseer since 1981 - offers the broadest range of writings and comments of any of the possible papal successors.

In 1986, he scorned rock music as a "vehicle of anti-religion." Last year, he told American bishops that it was appropriate to deny Communion to those who support such "manifest grave sin" as abortion and euthanasia.

In a book released Wednesday, "Values in a Time of Upheavals," Ratzinger dismissed demands for European "multiculturalism" as a "fleeing from what is one's own." He also wrote that "marriage and family are essential for European identity."

Yet in another book, "Salt of the Earth" in 1997, Ratzinger showed flashes of a pastoral side and sensitivity for the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council from 1962-65, when he was considered a leader among forward-thinking theologians.

"Christianity must rise again like the mustard seed, in insignificantly small groups whose members intensively live in combat with what is evil in the world while demonstrating what is good," wrote Ratzinger, who turned 78 on Saturday. "They are the salt of the earth, the vessels of the faith."


On the Sidelines, Catholic Liberals Still Seek a Ray of Hope


April 17, 2005
By IAN FISHER for the New York Times

ROME, April 16 - The idea was so preposterous that Sister Christine Schenk's first response was a long and resigned laugh. Would she and other liberal Catholics have any influence in the conclave that chooses a new pope?

"Oh, no, not at all," Sister Christine, director of FutureChurch, a coalition of progressive American Catholics, said in a telephone interview from Cleveland, where the group is based. "I think that is one of the difficulties with the conclave. Because you are a Catholic and because it doesn't happen very often, it feels like you are a team.

"But to think that there is any way to influence it is a complete fantasy." They may be idealists in general, but on this issue - the essential irrelevance of a liberal voice in this conclave - they are definite realists. Of the 115 cardinals taking part in the conclave, which begins on Monday, almost none of them have been outspoken on matters important to the liberal wing of the Catholic Church, like the ordination of women, more inclusion of laity in church business or easing bans on contraception.

Luigi De Paoli, one of the founders of We Are Church, the largest liberal church group in Europe, said his group had no cardinal inside the conclave representing its views. "We know some of them, and we think some of the most 'progressive' are in favor of our positions," he said. "But most of them are really conservative."

Still, liberals do not seem to despair (which is, anyway, a mortal sin for all stripes of Catholics). While questions like sexual morality do not appear to be on the table, that of collegiality - allowing bishops a greater say in adapting church doctrine locally - transcends the bounds of liberal and conservative. And many experts believe it will be one of the major issues discussed in the conclave, and could result in more local control, a change liberals would like.

Isaac Wüst, a liberal Catholic activist from the Netherlands, said that under Pope John Paul II, and especially in his later years, decisions came "from top to bottom, and no voices came from bottom to the top."

"Or at least no one was listening at the Vatican," he said. "That is what we want to change most of all," he added.

Like many matters facing the church, the liberal-conservative divide is not clear-cut: some liberals make the case that the conservative viewpoint dominating the Vatican and the College of Cardinals does not reflect ordinary Catholic life, and is one reason for declining church attendance in developed countries. But conservatives note that liberals do not represent all Catholics, particularly among the most devout.

Liberal groups themselves face contradictions. Although they say they represent Catholics around the world, their movements are based primarily in the United States and Europe, where church attendance is declining. In the third world, where the church is growing fastest, many Catholics remain deeply conservative, especially on sexual morality.

But even among the cardinals, easy definitions of liberal and conservative do not always fit. In the third world, many cardinals are conservative on sexual issues. In Latin America, many strongly oppose liberation theology, but are outspoken on poverty and social justice.

In Italy, one strong contender for the papacy, Dionigi Tettamanzi, the archbishop of Milan, is by most standards a conservative, especially on sexual morality, and is close to the conservative lay group Opus Dei. But he has sympathized with antiglobalists, and is outspoken on the need to find common ground with Muslims.

One progressive cardinal said the real divide in the College of Cardinals was simply between those who favored discussing delicate topics, like bioethics or sexual morality, and those who wanted them declared settled and off limits. Still, several activists said they believed that the reality of the church would force some changes.

Sister Christine noted that the dire shortage of priests and seminarians would have to be confronted. She said she hoped support would grow for the idea of married priests, and for allowing the ordination of women as deacons and someday priests.

"In the long term, our faith is with the Holy Spirit," said Linda Pieczynski, spokeswoman for Call to Action, based in Chicago, the largest Catholic reform group in the United States. "It's not with the individual men who govern the church."

"Jesus said the Spirit will always be with us," she added. "How else could the church have lasted for 2,000 years given the terrible leadership it has had at times?"

Daniel J. Wakin contributed reporting for this article.


The Papacy: Art Invents What Few Really Know


April 14, 2005
By ELAINE SCIOLINO for the New York Times

PARIS, April 13 - With the papal conclave deadlocked, the 117 cardinals compromise on a Filipino as pope. When he is assassinated six months later by an Islamic suicide bomber, Cardinal Timothy John Mulrennan, the handsome, media-savvy archbishop of Newark, takes his place, becoming history's first American pope.

So goes the story of "Conclave," an action-packed first novel published in 2001 by Greg Tobin, a writer from New Jersey. As a result of the death of Pope John Paul II and the conclave scheduled next week to choose his successor, Tor Books is reprinting it in a new paperback edition.

Steeped in ritual, shrouded in secrecy, the sealed forum in the Sistine Chapel where the world's cardinals elect the pope is probably the oldest and most mysterious electoral body in the world. Laymen hungry to know more must rely largely on novels, films, television docudramas and speculative nonfiction. The accounts range from imaginative distortions of reality to scholarly tomes that can be informative yet dull.

But sometimes even the fiction proves prescient.

"The Shoes of the Fisherman," the 1968 film of the novel by Morris L. West, with Anthony Quinn as the pope, was panned by critics for what they considered an absurd plot. It tells the story of a Ukrainian ex-political prisoner who becomes pope, ministers directly to the faithful and prevents China from going to war - all in an era when the idea of a non-Italian, anti-Soviet, activist pope like John Paul II was considered impossible.

"Angels & Demons" (Atria, 2003), the current best seller by Dan Brown, is at least as improbable. The book - peppered with factual errors, papal scholars like to point out - tells the story of a Harvard scholar, Robert Langdon (also the hero of Mr. Brown's "Da Vinci Code"), who helps save the Catholic Church from a bomb during a papal conclave convened after a pope is assassinated. The powerful camerlengo, or papal chamberlain, turns out to be the biological son of the dead pope, conceived through artificial insemination.

"The Vatican is really like a royal court full of intrigue and secrecy," said the Rev. Vincent O'Keefe, the former president of Fordham University, who spent nearly two decades in Rome. "Then there is the conclave that is such a mysterious process, with white smoke announcing the election of the pope."

"Ordinary people are not so much interested in how many persons there are in the Trinity," he added. "But they are hungry for all the inside stories."

Tell-all memoirs by cardinals of the goings-on inside a conclave do not exist, partly because of the grave consequences threatened for those who talk. (The only pope ever to have discussed the election process in an autobiography was Pius II in the 15th century.)

Despite the imposed secrecy, there was considerable leakage of information during the conclave that elected John Paul II in 1978. It was widely known in church circles at the time that Cardinal Carlo Confalonieri (who has since died) was the unnamed source in many journalists' reports on the voting patterns.

The next year, the Rev. Andrew M. Greeley wrote "The Making of the Popes," which tracked the death of Pope Paul VI, the election of John Paul I and his death after a 33- day tenure, and the election of John Paul II. The book jacket describes it as an "exposé" of "the balloting, the intrigue, the politics behind the deliberations" of the cardinals at that time. It includes a special thanks to "Deep Purple," who Father Greeley said is really two sources: one a cardinal who is now over 80 and therefore ineligible to vote, but who will participate in the conclave, which opens on Monday.

"I view the conclave as a political process," said Father Greeley, who is in Rome researching a book to be titled "Making of the Pope 2005." "While the Holy Spirit is at work, as she is in everything, I don't believe she whispers in anyone's ear."

Some films and books on the Vatican have also grappled with the broad moral and doctrinal crises facing the church. Otto Preminger's 1963 film, "The Cardinal," for example, relates the life story of a young cardinal played by Tom Tryon, who is tempted by a woman and wrestles with the thorny issues of premarital sex, abortion and anti-Semitism.

As a priest, Cardinal Mulrennan, the hero and future pope of Mr. Tobin's novel, deals with alcoholism, pedophilia, racism and celibacy. A German cardinal is portrayed as a homosexual, and an Irish cardinal as a hard-drinking compulsive gambler.

Mr. Tobin, a spokesman for Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., has also written a factual work on conclaves. Barnes & Noble published his serious study, "Selecting the Pope: Uncovering the Mysteries of Papal Elections," in 2003. Other recent nonfiction books on the process include "Conclave: The Politics, Personalities and Process of the Next Papal Election" (Image, 2002), by John L. Allen Jr., a correspondent for The National Catholic Reporter, and "Heirs of the Fisherman: Behind the Scenes of Papal Death and Succession" (Oxford University Press, 2004), by John-Peter Pham.

Distortions are inevitable, given the Vatican's secrecy, and some who have struggled to capture the church's inner workings said they felt a strong responsibility to get it right.

"You hope and pray you will be given inspiration, because you're dealing with such a sacred subject," said Michael Anderson, the director of "The Shoes of the Fisherman," who was given extraordinary access by the Vatican in making the film. "The challenge was to keep the wording and the teachings accurate and at the same time convey the sense of drama."

At one point, he said, Mr. Quinn had to be talked out of quitting the film when he felt that a swelling of his eye had been a curse from God.

"The swelling wouldn't go down, and we had to shoot around him for 10 days," Mr. Anderson recalled. "Tony found something in Holy Scripture called 'Monk's disease,' which was an affliction of the eye for those who pretend to be holier than they were. He said: 'I am me. I'm not the Pope. I'm being punished.' It was a solemn moment."

Father Greeley, like Mr. Tobin, has found the novel a liberating way to elaborate on his nonfiction. In "White Smoke" (St. Martin's Press, 1996), he tells the story of a conclave in which an American bishop named John Blackwood Ryan, known as Blackie, uses the stealth and cunning he learned in Chicago to further the papal election of a liberal, once-married cardinal. (The cardinal had become a priest after his wife died.)

"It may not be the best way to elect the pope, with the men in red and the secret voting and the white smoke," Father Greeley said. "But as Blackie says in the book, and I may say it, 'It's great theater.' "

Jason Horowitz contributed reporting from Rome for this article.
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