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April 01, 2005

What Happens If the Pontiff Dies?

If the Pope dies, here’s what happens.

Sources say the selection of a new pope will be a wide-open contest.

MSNBC lists some of the favorites:

On the theory the cardinals may seek a transitional figure, one name that has emerged in Rome is Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a German who heads the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

He’s 77 and has proposed retiring several times to John Paul, but the pope has turned him down. Ratzinger is favored by those who want assurances the conservative policies of John Paul — opposition to contraception, women priests and any loosening of mandatory celibacy for priests — won’t be relaxed, according to a prelate who closely follows the succession maneuvers.

Another camp is touting Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, who at 62 is seen as a dynamic churchman from Latin America.

Other prominent names mentioned include Cardinal Francis Arinze, a Vatican-based Nigerian; Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina; Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Belgium; Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico; Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn of Austria and Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi of Italy.

The Independent Online presents more possibilities:

John Allen, a Rome-based correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, argues that Pope John Paul II leaves behind "a more united world and a more divided church".

"John Paul II directed much of his energies towards the outside world rather than on the inner workings of the Church," Allen argues. "Under his pontificate, liberals and conservatives have found it increasingly difficult to talk to each other," he adds.

At the same time, demands for "collegiality" and "subsidiarity", two terms used to describe the need for lower-ranking clergy to be given a greater say in church government, are increasingly being voiced.

These could favour Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Belgium, who is seen as a reformist who often campaigns for a greater spread of power within the Church.

According to the late Peter Hebblethwaite, author of a book aptly called The Next Pope, Danneels is "one of the few cardinals with vision and clear analysis". However, Hebblethwaite notes in his book, "he is not particularly inspiring" and is said to lack human warmth.

Although many believe the papacy should be returned to an Italian, Allen argues that the church no longer needs an "administrative pope". Instead, it needs a man capable of arousing interest in all corners of the world, particularly where converts are needed.

Giacomo Galeazzi, a Vatican expert in Rome, agrees.

"They won't elect an Italian because that would mean withdrawing to put the house in order at a time when there is a need for expansion," he argues.

Both Allen and Galeazzi believe, therefore, that the next pope could easily be a foreigner, even a non-European.

American candidates won't be in contention, Allen says, because the Vatican jealously guards its diplomatic independence, while an American pope would give rise to suspicion that he is being influenced by the United States.

Galeazzi notes that after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, there is even more need for a pope that comes from a developing country. He cites Asia, where political instability could favour the Church in the future, and Latin America, where the Church has been doing particularly well.

The name of Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos features high up in his list of candidates.

Castrillon, who is in his 70s, is described by Hebblethwaite as being "mind-blowingly conservative on Church matters", but also "a man of courage".

He is known for helping the derelict and confronting corrupt coffee barons and policemen in his native Colombia. It is said that he once disguised himself as a milkman and visited drug baron Pablo Escobar to force him to confess his sins.

Castrillon currently heads the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy, an influential body in charge of priests around the world.

His chances are also boosted by the fact that Latin Americans form one of the biggest blocks of voters at the next conclave.

Posted by Jim at April 1, 2005 05:08 PM

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