Monday, April 04, 2005

Who Will Be the Next Pope?

Since we heard that John Paul II was ill, I've been wondering who might replace him as Pope, so I started reading articles speculating on who might be among the leading contenders. John Paul II was the first non-Italian Pope in something like 450 years and the trend seems to against the papacy returning to the Italians.

Two to three weeks after the death of the Pope, 117 Cardinals will gather in a secret meeting to select the new Pope. Their agenda will be to elect a new Pope who will have the good of the Church at heart. The new Pope will be in that room, not knowing his destiny is about to change. Not all of the Cardinals will be considered as candidates. Some will be too young, some too old, some too controversial, some too liberal, some too conservative. Even the election of a Pope is fraught with politics.

I can't believe that their agendas are centered squarely on who is best for the Church. That's not to say that they don't want what's best, but they all have their own ideas of what's best for the Catholic Church of the 21st century. They will have issues they want the new Pope to favor, so they will back a cardinal who agrees with those issues. John Paul II appointed most of the cardinals who will be in the conclave, so they are mostly conservative. Even among conservatives there are some that lean toward the liberal and some who lean toward being even more conservative. Eventually a compromise will be reached and a new Pope will be named.

Here is a list of some who are being touted as contenders for the Papacy.

The Europeans are:
Godfried Danneels of Belgium
Walter Kasper of Germany
Joseph Ratzinger of Germany
Dionigi Tettamanzi of Italy
Angelo Scola of Italy
Tarcisio Bertone of Italy
Camillo Ruini of Italy
Christoph Schonborn of Austria
Jean-Marie Lustiger of France
Lubomyr Husar of the Ukraine

The Latin Americans are:
Dario Castrillon Hoyos of Columbia
Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras
Claudio Hummes of Brazil
Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina
Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico
Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino of Cuba

From Africa:
Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria

From Asia:
Cardinal Ivan Dias of India

You will note that there are no American Cardinals on the list. The thought seems to be against the Americans because of the suspicion of American influence. Gee, we can't have that, now, can we? I don't think that says much for the Pope , if he could be influenced that way.

The next Pope could be from an emerging nation such as Nigeria. Or Asia where the Papacy could aid political insecurity. Or South America where the Catholic church is, of course, very strong.

Many supposedly in the know think that because of John Paul II's long papacy, the Vatican will be looking for a transitional Pope, one who will lead the Papacy into next Papacy with little change. Sort of sounds like someone to "mind the store" until the new manager comes on board.

Of course, it is said that he who goes in to the conclave (to elect a Pope) comes out a Cardinal. So it could be someone not on the list above. In fact, Karol Wojtyla was a surprise when he became John Paul II in 1978.

Will it be one of the ones listed above? or a surprise like Karol Wojtyla ?

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