News / Europe

    Cardinals Debate Qualifications for Pope

    People walk in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, March 7, 2013.People walk in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, March 7, 2013.
    x
    People walk in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, March 7, 2013.
    People walk in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, March 7, 2013.
    Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who resigned as pontiff last month, has pledged his “unconditional reverence and obedience” to whomever succeeds him to guide the 1.2-billion-member Roman Catholic Church.

    As cardinals continue their discussions, Vatican experts ask what kind of pope do they believe will be best suited to lead the church?

    The Rev. Thomas Reece, at Georgetown University, said the cardinals will be looking for someone who can best convey the Catholic message.

    “The most important thing is to figure out how to preach the gospel in a way that is attractive and understandable to people in the 21st century - especially young people,” said Reece. “Certainly in the north, in Europe and the United States, we see young people leaving religion, not just Catholicism, but Christianity and other religions. So, how to make the message of Jesus, which I think is very attractive and challenging, get it across to young people so that it doesn’t turn them away. That is the real challenge.”

    Papal contenders and electors around the world



    New pope must evangelize

    In other words, said Rev. Robert Barron, rector of Mundelein Seminary in Chicago, the cardinals would want “someone who is a skilled and gifted evangelizer.”

    “Once you say that, then you are saying someone with a lot of theology, theological acumen, someone with good communications skills, someone who knows lots of languages - certainly true since John Paul was pope,” said Barron. “But I would say the major rubric under which they see all this is an evangelizer, someone who can proclaim the gospel effectively to the wider world.”

    New pope may come from developing world

    Many experts said the cardinals also will discuss whether it is time to elect a pontiff who is not European. Forty-two percent of the world’s Catholics are in South America and 24 percent live in Africa, where the church is growing.

    But experts also pointed out that more than half of the cardinals are European, which gives them a distinct advantage when it comes to electing a pope.

    The cardinals will be looking for someone who is a good manager and who could reform the Vatican bureaucracy known as the Curia, especially following the scandal involving the pope’s butler who stole documents, some of them revealing alleged corruption in the Curia.

    New pope must address reform of Vatican bureaucracy

    Reece is somewhat skeptical. He said "there has been talk for decades about reforming the Vatican bureaucracy and none of the popes have been able to accomplish it.”

    Experts said as the cardinals discuss who is best qualified to become pope, they are facing a unique situation, the presence of a former pontiff - Benedict XVI, now living not far from their deliberations.

    Some experts asked: will he play a role in future Vatican affairs?

    Not according to church historian Chris Bellitto, teaching at Keane University in Union, New Jersey.

    “If this pope wanted to have a hand in affairs, then he wouldn’t have resigned,” said Bellitto. “And stylistically, I cannot see this man interfering. He has spent his entire life for the institution. If he meddled, he would be undermining the institution. And I just don’t see it happening.”

    Former Pope Benedict won't interfere in church affairs

    Reece said Benedict is “perfectly happy in his room and his library, reading his books.”

    “The question is, will he write? If he writes, then there is always the fear that people will look at his writings and say, 'Well, Benedict says this, but the new pope says that.’ And that would not be healthy for the church,” said Reece.

    Pope Benedict XVI waves to the faithful as he arrives in St Peter's Square to hold his last general audience at the Vatican, February 27, 2013.Pope Benedict XVI waves to the faithful as he arrives in St Peter's Square to hold his last general audience at the Vatican, February 27, 2013.
    x
    Pope Benedict XVI waves to the faithful as he arrives in St Peter's Square to hold his last general audience at the Vatican, February 27, 2013.
    Pope Benedict XVI waves to the faithful as he arrives in St Peter's Square to hold his last general audience at the Vatican, February 27, 2013.
    Barron agreed that the former pontiff will not insert himself in the affairs of the church, but he is uneasy about Benedict’s decision to resign the papacy.

    “I do have a little bit of a concern about the precedent-setting quality of this, if it becomes the norm that popes resign or retire, because who knows in the future what troubles that might cause and what ambiguity it might cause,” said Barron. “So I get that. I get how this is certainly unusual and maybe not the best precedent for the future of the church, I understand that. But this particular ex-pope, I think, will not cause any trouble in that regard.”

    Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI currently is living in Castel Gandolfo outside Rome, waiting to move into his permanent facilities inside the Vatican walls.

    Ironically, he will not be able to vote for a new pontiff because he is over 80 years of age - the limit set for any cardinal voting in a papal election.

    Andre de Nesnera

    Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

    You May Like

    Multimedia Obama Calls on Americans to Help the Families of Its War Dead

    In last Memorial Day of his presidency, Obama lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: NVO from: USA
    March 07, 2013 5:26 PM
    You want the real qualifications per the RC church? Well here they are: Father Connor, you probably know him, said that the catholic church under the heading of "sacred tradition" teaches that the final pope will defect from the faith! Now here is what Bishop Sheen said. "The false prophet will have a religion without a cross, a religion without a world to come, a religion to destroy religions. There will be a counter church, Christs church will be one, and the false prophet will create the other. The false church will be worldly, ecumenical, and global. It will be a loose federation of churches and religions forming some type of global association. A world parliament of churches, it will be emptied of all divine content and will be the mystical body of the anti-Christ. The mystical body on earth today will have its Judas Iscariot, and he will be the false prophet. Satan will recruit him from among OUR Bishops! The false prophet will be a bishop, and like Judas, he will sell the mystical body to the anti-Christ".-

    Archbishop Fulton Sheen (1950)
    In Response

    by: Rev. Charles W. Daily, Jr from: Shawano, Wisconsin
    March 08, 2013 10:33 AM
    Archbishop Fulton Sheen was a prophet and we can see that in the present theological realignments today. As an Anglo-Catholic reflecting the thinking of the 'conservative' Episcopal Church I see a drift toward an abandonment of Holy Scripture, Trinitarian Traditional Sacramental Theology and embracing a sexualized immorality based on LBGTI orientations.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora