A personal reflection by Peter Jennings Already in the months proceeding the death of Pope John Paul II at 9.37pm (Rome time) on Saturday 2 April there was growing speculation in the media as to which Cardinals would emerge as frontrunners in the subsequent Conclave. Understandably, this speculation increased in the days following the death of Pope John Paul the Great, as he is now referred to by millions of Catholics throughout the world. During the Sixth General Congregation, held in the New Synod Hall on Saturday 9 April, the day after the Funeral Mass in St Peter,s Square, the College of Cardinals, warmly thanked the media for its sensitive and sympathetic coverage of all the events surrounding the death of Pope John Paul II. However, wishing to preserve an atmosphere of recollection conducive to prayer and reflection the Cardinals: "Unanimously decided to avoid media interviews and encounters with journalists. The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Dr Joaquin Navarro-Valls said that in preparation for the Conclave, to begin in the Sistine Chapel at 4.30pm on Monday 18 April, the Cardinals are engaged in: "An exchange of ideas on the general situation of the Church in the world and on the Holy See. Dr Valls added: "These include, evangelisation, family, bioethics, social justice, and the role of the Pope and the Holy See in a Universal Church living in a globalise world. From the official statements it appears that the Cardinals are at present concerned with the needs of the Church rather than looking for a personality to occupy the See of Saint Peter. It is evident that no person can have all the qualities necessary to resolve the problems of the Church and the World. For those for whom world wide Evangelisation and the re-Evangelisation of Europe are priorities, the Cardinals will look for a candidate of marked pastoral experience and skill in communication, one who like Pope John Paul II is able to proclaim his message without flinching: "In season and out of season". The place of Latin America in the life of the Church cannot be overlooked; indeed the majority of the worlds Catholics are in Latin America or of Latin American origin. Argentina or Mexico might be considered as providing a suitable candidate but some wonder whether the time is right for a Religious such as a Jesuit or a Salesian. The largest Episcopal Conference in the world is that of Brazil, whose President, is CARDINAL GERALDO MAJELLA AGNELO. Behind an unassuming appearance there lies considerable Pastoral experience as a spiritual director of the Seminary of San Paolo, his work as a diocesan bishop and Archbishop followed by eight years in the Roman Curia before being appointed to the Primatial See of San Salvador di Bahia. The African Continent is growing in stature and influence both in the world and the Church but it is possible that many Cardinals feel that neither Africa nor for that matter Asia is ready to provide a candidate for the bishopric of Rome. CURIAL CARDINALS The leading contender among the Cardinals of the Roman Curia is CARDINAL JOSEPH RATZINGER (Germany) Dean of the College of Cardinals, who presided over and preached at the Funeral of Pope John Paul II. The former Archbishop of Munich has been for nearly twenty years Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He has the necessary experience and stature to follow Pope John Paul II. Cardinal Ratzinger celebrates his 78th birthday on 16 April, the day the Conclave begins. The present Secretary of State CARDINAL ANGELO SODANO (Italy) aged 77 is also among the Curial Candidates. For many years a close collaborator of Pope John Paul I CARDINAL GIOVANNI BATTISTA RE (Italy) age 71, Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, might be considered a possible candidate. ITALIAN NON-CURIAL CARDINALS If the Cardinal Electors decided that they wanted another Italian Pope then they might consider CARDINAL DIONIGI TETTAMANZI (Italy) aged 71 Archbishop of Milan and who is well known for his concern over social matters, justice and peace. CARDINAL CAMILLO RUINI (Italy) aged 74, the Cardinal Vicar for the Diocese of Rome and President of the Italian Episcopal Conference is an unlikely candidate but not unworthy of consideration. CARDINAL TARCISIO BERTONE, SDB, a Salesian, (Italy) aged 69, recently appointed Archbishop of Genoa was for almost ten years Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. NON-ITALIAN EUROPEAN CARDINALS If the Cardinals were to look to another non-Italian European, they might go for CARDINAL CHRISTOPH SCHONBORN OP (Order of Preachers Dominican), (Austria) aged 60, Archbishop of Vienna and a principle director in preparation of The Catechism of the Catholic Church. AFRICA On the other hand the Cardinals might turn to AFRICA and elect CARDINAL FRANCIS ARINZE (Nigeria) aged 72, who is Prefect of the Congregation of Sacraments and Divine Worship after many years as President of the Council for Inter Religious Dialogue. LATIN AMERICA Today, the majority of the world's Catholics live in Latin America and it is to this continent that the Cardinals may turn for the next Pope. There are a number of outstanding candidates including: CARDINAL GERALDO MAJELLA AGNELO (Brazil) aged 71, President of the Bishop,s Conference of Brazil and Vice President of CELAM. Cardinal Agnelo worked for six years in the Roman Curia as Secretary for the Congregation of Sacraments and Divine Worship. Other names to watch are: CARDINAL CLAUDIO HUMMES OFM, Order of Friars Minor a Franciscan, (Brazil) aged 70, Archbishop of Sao Paulo, Brazil. CARDINAL NORBERTO RIVERA CARRERA (Mexico) aged 62, Archbishop of Mexico City. CARDINAL OSCAR ANDRES RODRIGUEZ MARADIAGA, SDB, a Salesian, (Honduras) aged 62, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. CARDINAL JAIME LUCAS ORTEGA y ALAMINO (Cuba) aged 68, Archbishop of Cristobal, Havana. Perhaps one of the strongest contenders from Latin America is the Jesuit, CARDINAL JORGE MARIO BERGOGLIO SJ (Argentina) aged 68, Archbishop of Buenos Aires. FOR THE RECORD BLESSED POPE JOHN XXIII (1881-1963) Cardinal Roncalli, Patriarch of Venice, was elected Pope on 28 October 1958. He died in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican on 3 June 1963. POPE PAUL VI (1897-1978) Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini, for thirty years Secretary of State before becoming Archbishop of Milan, was elected Pope on 21 June 1963. He died at Castelgandolfo on Sunday 6 August 1978, the Feast of the Transfiguration. POPE JOHN PAUL I (1912-1978) Cardinal Albino Luciani, Patriarch of Venice, was elected on 26 August 1978. He died in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican, 34 days later on 29 September 1978. POPE JOHN PAUL II (1920-2005) Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, Archbishop of Cracow in Poland, was elected as the 264th Successor of Saint Peter and Bishop of Rome on 16 October 1978. He was the first non-Italian Pope since the sixteenth century; the first from a communist country, and at the age of 58 was the youngest Pope to be elected since 1846. He celebrated his Inaugural Mass in St Peter,s Square on 22 October 1978. He died in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican on 2 April 2005, the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday, aged 84.
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