The Next Pope: Facts to Ponder, Prelates to Watch
The Next Pope: Facts to Ponder, Prelates
to Watch | April 9, 2005
World Report Staff
Editor's note: This article originally appeared in the November 2003 issue
of Catholic World Report. It has been revised and updated to reflect
the current status of the College of Cardinals.
Of the 183 total cardinals 117 are eligible to vote in the papal conclave.
That is all the cardinals under the age of eighty with the exceptions
of Cardinal Jaime L. Sin of the Philippines and Cardinal Alfonso Antonio
Suarez Rivera of Mexico, who are too ill to attend. The successful candidate
must receive two-thirds of the votes.
These prelates come from 66 different countries. Although Europe is still
disproportionately represented in the College of Cardinals, with 58 cardinal
electors, the upcoming conclave will still be the most diverse in the
history of the Church, from a geographical perspective. No single countryin
fact, no single continentwill command the votes necessary to ensure
a candidates election.
Forces in play
In 1978 the election of a Polish cardinal shocked observers, who had not
anticipated an end to the unbroken 455-year succession of Italian Popes.
But that election also shattered any assumption that the next Pope will
be an Italian.
With 20 cardinal-electors, the Italian contingent will still be by far
the largest single national group in the conclave. If they were to unite
behind a single candidateand perhaps bring along some of the many
cardinals from other countries who are now stationed in Romethey
could form a powerful voting bloc. But to date Vatican-watchers have not
detected any movement toward one of the several Italian papabili; the
Italian cardinals are likely to divide their votes among several candidates.
The cardinals of Latin America, however, have shown a strong inclination
to work together. The most influential prelates of the region (Cardinals
Hummes of Sao Paolo, Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Errázuiz of Santiago,
Cipriani of Lima, Rivera of Mexico City) maintain close and friendly ties.
It is quite possible that they would rally support behind a single candidate.
There are 21 cardinal-electors from Latin America, making that group a
formidable voting bloc.
Moreover, there is a growing sentiment within the College of Cardinals
in favor of a Pope from the Third World. There are few leading papabili
from Asia and Africa, but several from Latin America. It is distinctly
possible, then, that the next Pope will come from the worlds most
populous Catholic region.
In an essay published in the January 2001 issue of Catholic World Report,
James Hitchcock identified one influential group of prelates as "the
accommodationists." In his analysis, for the cardinals in this category,
"renewal" simply came to mean identifying the most pressing
secular movementsMarxism, the sexual revolution, feminism, environmentalism,
etcand providing religious support for them, every independent religious
belief condemned as an obstacle to human progress.
As Hitchcock pointed out, the "accommodationist" movement exerted
enormous power within the post-conciliar Church, particularly in Western
Europe. But by the dawn of the 21st century, these cardinals could no
longer reasonably expect to elect one of their own to the pontificate.
Their best hope in the coming conclave will be to prevent the election
of a disciplinarian.
At the consistory of October 2003, however, Pope John Paul created several
new cardinals whose pastoral style is diametrically opposed to that of
the "accommodationists." Cardinals Pell of Sydney, Scola of
Milan, Ouellet of Quebec, and Barbarin of Lyon are all young, energetic,
and unabashedly orthodox. In the next conclave, they will supply fresh
voices in support of traditional teachings.
The United States will send 11 cardinals into the conclave, forming the
second-largest national delegation after the Italians. No American cardinalin
fact, no prelate from the English-speaking worldfigures prominently
on the usual lists of papabili. The American cardinals will command a
great deal of attention before the beginning of the conclave, because
their presence in Rome will draw the attention of the enormous American
media contingent. Once the conclave begins, and the cardinals disappear
from the media focus, the influence of the American delegation is likely
Prelates to watch
The following cardinals are likely to play important roles in the next
conclave. Although not all of them are papabili, each one will have an
influential voice in the selection of the next Pontiff.
Francis Arinze, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship,
figures prominently on most current lists of papabili. The 72-year-old
Nigerian, whose academic training took place in Rome and London as well
as his native land, was appointed a bishop when he was only 33, and became
Archbishop of Onitska, Nigeria, in 1967. He remained in that post until
1984, when he was appointed by Pope John Paul II as president of the Pontifical
Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, a post he occupied until receiving
his current assignment in October 2002. In 20 years of service at the
Vatican, he has acquired a reputation for personal charm, staunch orthodoxy,
and plain speech. If the conclave leans toward a black African Pope, he
will be the clear favorite.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, was originally
trained as a chemist before entering the Jesuit order. He was named an
auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires in 1992, and became archbishop in 1997.
The Argentine prelate, who will celebrate his 69th birthday in December,
has replaced Carlo Maria Martini as the most prominent Jesuit on the list
of papabili. He will also rank among the most influential members of the
Latin American contingent at the conclave.
Dario Castrillón Hoyos, the prefect of the Congregation for
the Clergy, is now 75 years olda bit old to be considered among
the top papabili, but still a possible choice for a conclave inclined
toward a "caretaker" pontificate. A Colombian with a keen interest
in new communications technologies (he is a regular Internet user), he
became a bishop in 1971 and eventually was appointed Archbishop of Bucaramanga,
Colombia, in 1992, serving there until he was called to his current assignment
in the Roman Curia. As a former secretary-general (1983-1987) and president
(1987-1991) of the influential Latin American bishops conference
CELAM, he helped to guide the Church through the heated dispute over liberation
theology. Since 2000 he has headed the Ecclesia Dei commission, charged
with the supervision of efforts to preserve the traditional Latin Mass.
He has also been charged by John Paul II with the negotiationsthus
far unsuccessfulaimed at restoring Lefebvrite traditionalists to
full communion with the Holy See.
Godfried Danneels, Archbishop of Brussels, is not too old to become
Pope, at 71; but he may be too controversial. (A history of heart disease
also weighs against his selection.) Long a favorite of "progressive"
Catholics in Europe, he has become increasingly outspoken in his statements
in favor of decentralizing the Church hierarchy, and promoting the role
of women in Catholic leadership. A bishop since 1977, he replaced another
liberal leader, Cardinal Leo Suenens, as Archbishop of Brussels in 1979.
Cláudio Hummes, OFM, Archbishop of Sao Paolo, is another leading
member of the Latin American delegation. The Brazilian Franciscan, who
is 70, was chosen by Pope John Paul II to preach the Lenten Retreat at
the Vatican in 2002. Apart from studies in Italy and Switzerland, he has
served his entire clerical career in Brazil, the nation with the worlds
largest Catholic population. He stirred some protests there in 2002, when
he showed his sympathies for the countrys new Marxist leader, President
Luis Inacio da Silva. Considered an expert on ecumenical affairs, he has
been a bishop since 1975.
Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian
Unity, is the chief Vatican officer handling ecumenical affairs; he also
heads a commission charged with promoting dialogue with Judaism. One of
the most accomplished theologians in the College of Cardinals, he studied
under the famed dissident Hans Küng at the University of Tubingen,
then taught at the same university and at Catholic University in Washington,
DC, before being appointed Bishop of Rottenburg, Germany, in 1987. Since
joining the Roman Curia in 1999, he has been a consistent spokesman for
liberal views, occasionally clashing openly with the other most distinguished
cardinal-theologian, Joseph Ratzinger. He is 72 years old.
Jean-Marie Lustiger, the Archbishop of Paris, is the son of Polish
Jews; his mother died at Auschwitz in 1943. Heavily influenced by French
Catholics who opened their home to him, he was baptized at the age of
15, and soon entered the seminary in Orleans. In 1979 he was named bishop
of that diocese, and in 1981 became Archbishop of Paris. A charismatic
man with an intense personal spirituality, he has captured the imagination
of many young French Catholics, and in Paris he has attracted many new
vocations to the priesthood in spite of the rampant secularization of
French culture. He was considered papabile for at least a decade, but
his age (78) now weighs heavily against him.
Carlo Maria Martini, SJ, the retired Archbishop of Milan, also ranked
high on the list of papabili for many years, as the favorite candidate
of Catholic liberals and the most prominent Jesuit in the College of Cardinals.
Pope John Paul himself helped to bring the Italian prelate to the fore,
by inviting him to preach the Lenten Retreat in 1978 and then naming him
Archbishop of Milan in 1979. Previously he had been known primarily as
a Biblical scholar, heading first the Pontifical Biblical Institute and
then the Gregorian University in Rome. In 2002, upon reaching his 75th
birthday, he resigned his episcopal duties and moved to Jerusalem, announcing
that he wished to spend his remaining days in prayer and study there.
Joseph Ratzinger, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine
of the Faith, is probably the best-known member of the College of Cardinals.
A bulwark of orthodoxy during the current pontificate, he has remained
at his post, heading the Vaticans chief doctrinal agency, since
1981at the express request of the Holy Father, and despite his own
unconcealed desire to return home to his native Bavaria. An acclaimed
theologian who participated as a peritus in the deliberations of Vatican
II, he became Archbishop of Munich in 1977. A mild, friendly manwhose
personality bears no resemblance to the liberal caricature of the Panzerkardinalhe
has continued to produce his own serious theological works despite the
demands of his office. His age (77) and medical history (a series of mild
strokes) make him an unlikely candidate for the papacy, but he will be
a powerful force in the conclave.
Giovanni Battista Re, the prefect of the powerful Congregation for
Bishops, is the consummate Vatican "insider." A native of the
Italian diocese of Brescia, he was ordained to the priesthood there, but
worked only briefly in parish assignments before entering the Vatican
diplomatic service. After postings in Panama and Iran, he arrived in Rome
in 1971 as personal secretary to then-Archbishop Giovanni Benelli, the
sostituto or Undersecretary of State. For 30 years he has moved steadily
up through the ranks of the Curiabecoming secretary of the Congregation
of Bishops (with the title of Archbishop) in 1987, then sostituto in 1989.
He held that position, supervising the day-to-day administration of Vatican
affairs, for 11 years, before assuming his current position, in which
he handles the appointments of bishops throughout the world. At the age
of 71, he would top the list of papabili, were it not for two factors.
First, he has never had any experience leading a dioceseor even
a parish. Second, there is a widespread perception that he is better suitedboth
by personality and by preferenceto fill the #2 position as Vatican
Secretary of State.
Norberto Rivera Carrera, the Archbishop of Mexico City, is another
important Latin American prelate whose name appears regularly on the lists
of papabili. The 62-year-old Mexican has shown an unusual appetite for
public confrontation, clashing frequently with the Mexican government
and forcing the resignation of a rector at the Marian shrine at Guadalupe,
after that rector questioned the historical reality of the Virgin Marys
apparition there. Although he has been a bishop since 1985, and is popular
among his colleagues in Latin America, he is not well known outside the
Oscar Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga, SDB, the Archbishop of Tegucigalpa,
Honduras, came to worldwide prominence as the president of CELAM, the
Latin American bishops conference, from 1993 to 1999. Favored by
liberal Catholics as a champion of "progressive" views on both
theological and political issues, he damaged his standing with liberal
pundits in October 2002, when he charged that media coverage of the sex-abuse
scandal in the US was a form of "persecution" against the Catholic
hierarchy. The 61-year-old Salesian, unlike Mexicos Cardinal Rivera,
is probably more popular among the prelates of Europe and North America
than among his Latin American colleagues.
Camillo Ruini, the Popes Vicar for the Diocese of Rome, is also
the president of the Italian bishops conference. That post gives
considerable exposure, as he seeks to exert some Catholic influence over
the countrys political debates. Moderately conservative on both
theological and political issues, he diverged slightly from the Vaticans
diplomatic line this year when he sharply criticized Italian pacifists
during the war in Iraq. As a popular 74-year-old Italian cardinal he should
be considered papabile, although a history of heart disease might provoke
Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, the Archbishop of Guadalajara,
is the second Mexican cardinal on the list of papabili. He entered the
seminary in Guadalajara in 1945, at the age of 12, andapart from
a brief assignment as Bishop of Juárezhas remained in the
same archdiocese since that time. His most conspicuous achievement is
the archdiocesan seminary, built to accommodate 1,000 students, which
is now overcrowded. His principal problem, on the other hand, has been
a long running battle with Mexican government officials, involving bitter
charges and counter-charges over the unresolved 1993 murder of his predecessor
as archbishop. Recently Mexican officials announced that they are investigating
the cardinal on money-laundering charges; his supporters insist that the
investigation is politically motivated.
Christoph Schönborn, OP, is the Archbishop of Vienna, and at
60 the youngest of the prominent papabili. Born in what is now the Czech
Republic, to a family with deep roots in the Austro-Hungarian nobility,
he entered the Dominican order, studied in Vienna and Paris, and became
a consultant to the Swiss bishops conference. An accomplished theologian
(who once studied under Cardinal Ratzinger) who is fluent in several different
languages, he was appointed in 1998 to direct the commission that eventually
produced the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In 1994 he was appointed
coadjutor archbishop of Vienna, becoming the head of that troubled archdiocese
one year later when Cardinal Hans Hermann Groër, OSB, resigned under
pressure after being accused of sexual abuse. After initial clashes with
the dissident group We Are Church and with some dissatisfied chancery
staff aides, he has settled into the task of promoting the "new evangelization"
in central Europe.
Angelo Scola, the Patriarch of Venice, immediately leapt toward the
top of the list of papabili when he received his red hat from Pope John
Paul at the October 2003 consistory. His predecessors in Venice include
three 20th-century pontiffs: Pius X, John XXIII, and John Paul I. The
63-year-old native of Milan is close to the Italian lay movement Communion
and Liberation, which is particularly influential in Italy and Latin America.
He became a specialist on family issues, teaching at the John Paul II
Institute for Family Studies. Prior to his appointment in Venice, he was
rector of the Pontifical Lateran University.
Angelo Sodano, the Secretary of State, is now 77 years old, and will
probably soon step down from that post (although John Paul II may leave
it to his successor to choose the next occupant of the Vaticans
second most powerful office). The son of a member of the Italian parliament,
he has spent over 40 years in Vatican service. Although his age and his
lack of pastoral experience make him a very unlikely candidate for the
papacy, his 13 years as Secretary of State have given him extraordinary
influence within the hierarchy, and he will be an important participant
in the conclave.
Dionigi Tettamanzi, the Archbishop of Milan, may rank as the leading
Italian candidate for the papacy. At the age of 69, he has been the head
of three important Italian archdioceses: Ancona, Genoa, and now Milan,
the largest see in Europe. Affable and outspoken, he has been particularly
vocal in his defense of Christian family life; he is reported to have
helped John Paul II draft his encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae.
In 2001 he won some new respect among political liberals when he gave
his blessing to the protestors who had gathered in Genoa to demonstrate
against globalization at a meeting of the "G8" industrial powers.
He has demonstrated a knack for dealing with the mass mediaperhaps
developed during his stint as chairman of the board of Avvenire,
the daily newspaper published by the Italian bishops conference.
Vatican website: "College
Vatican website: Biographies
of current Cardinals
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