News / Europe

Leading Dissident Priest Slams Covert Pope Selection Process

Pilgrims carry a cross as they arrive to pray in front of Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican in Rome, Feb. 11, 2013.Pilgrims carry a cross as they arrive to pray in front of Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican in Rome, Feb. 11, 2013.
x
Pilgrims carry a cross as they arrive to pray in front of Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican in Rome, Feb. 11, 2013.
Pilgrims carry a cross as they arrive to pray in front of Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican in Rome, Feb. 11, 2013.
Reuters
A leading dissident Austrian priest whose call to disobey some Roman Catholic teachings drew a rebuke from Pope Benedict XVI last year has urged Church leaders to throw off their secrecy and canvas churchgoers on who should lead them next.

Rev. Helmut Schueller, head of a group of priests who openly challenge Church positions on taboo topics, such as priestly celibacy and ordaining women, said selecting a successor to Benedict provides a chance to embrace public debate.

Schueller said his group represents 10 percent of Austria's clergy and enjoys broad public support for its pledge to break Church rules by giving communion to Protestants and divorced Catholics who remarry.

"If things were going well, the conclave fathers would at least be going out to the Church grassroots and calling meetings to really hear what the faithful expect,'' he told Reuters Wednesday in a phone interview.

"I find inappropriate this whole method that the cardinals withdraw into their own circle and something leaks out now and then about who might be under consideration,'' said Schueller, whose group is getting increasing attention abroad. "Most of the faithful know hardly anything about these people.''

Pope Frontrunners for Now
(Source: Reuters)

While there are no official candidates, here are the "papabili,'' potential popes, most frequently mentioned recently. The list is in alphabetical order.

  • Joao Braz de Aviz (Brazil, 65) brought fresh air to the  Vatican department for religious congregations when he took over in 2011. He supports the preference for the poor in Latin America's liberation theology, but not the excesses of its advocates.
  • Timothy Dolan, (USA, 62) became the voice of U.S. Catholicism after being named archbishop of New York in 2009. His humour and dynamism have impressed the Vatican, where both are often missing.
  • Marc Ouellet (Canada, 68) is effectively the Vatican's top staff director as head of the Congregation for Bishops. He once said becoming pope "would be a nightmare.''
  • Gianfranco Ravasi (Italy, 70) has been Vatican culture  minister since 2007 and represents the Church to the worlds of art, science, culture and even to atheists.
  • Leonardo Sandri (Argentina, 69) is a "transatlantic'' figure born in Buenos Aires to Italian parents. He held the third-highest Vatican post as its chief of staff in 2000-2007.
  • Odilo Pedro Scherer (Brazilia, 63) ranks as Latin America's strongest candidate. He's Archbishop of Sao Paolo, largest diocese in the largest Catholic country.
  • Christoph Schoenborn (Austria, 67) is a former student of Pope Benedict with a pastoral touch the pontiff lacks. The Vienna archbishop has ranked as papal material since editing the Church catechism in the 1990s.
  • Angelo Scola (Italy, 71) is archbishop of Milan, a springboard to the papacy, and is many Italians' bet to win. An expert on bioethics, he also knows Islam as head of a foundation to promote Muslim-Christian understanding.
  • Luis Tagle (Philippines, 55) has a charisma often compared to that of the late Pope John Paul. He is also close to Pope Benedict after working with him at the International Theological Commission.
  • Peter Turkson (Ghana, 64) is the top African candidate. Head of the Vatican justice and peace bureau, he is spokesman for the Church's social conscience and backs world financial reform.
Some 117 cardinals will enter a closed-door conclave at the Vatican in mid-March to elect a successor to Benedict, who stunned the world's 1.2 billion Catholics on Monday by saying that he would step down on February 28.

There are no open campaigns or declared candidates for the post, and cardinals are forbidden by Church law from revealing for whom they voted. Many cardinals choose their favorite after a series of discreet contacts in the days before the election.

Coded language

One front-runner is Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn. Schueller was once his deputy in the Vienna archdiocese. His decision to debate with, rather than discipline, his dissident priests may count against Schoenborn among hard-line cardinals.

Schueller said such an important decision required all the time and effort needed to form a broad consensus rather than letting a small group of top leaders decide this in secret.

"A billion Catholics are listening to what is [being discussed] in entirely secretive, coded language,'' he complained, calling it undignified that the laity hear about the process only from journalists reporting from the Vatican.

"This passive waiting around is repugnant. It's really time, and commensurate with the dignity of the faithful, that [the cardinals] put their cards on the table,'' he said.

Reformist Austrian Catholics have for decades challenged the conservative policies of Benedict and his predecessor Pope John Paul II, creating protest movements and advocating changes that the Vatican firmly rejects.

Benedict, who for over two decades before his 2005 election was the Vatican's chief doctrinal enforcer, singled out the Austrian rebels for criticism last April while restating the church's ban on women priests.

The German-born pontiff said he would not put up with open revolt from clerics and lay people.

Vatican rules unchecked

Schueller said an outsider from Africa or Latin America would have his work cut out for him to take on Vatican insiders.

Two-thirds of today's Catholics live in Latin America, Africa and Asia, and Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana and Cardinal Odilo Scherer of Brazil are among those mentioned as candidates.

"The biggest problem is that the Vatican establishment rules are unchecked over the global Church. Any pope who takes this on has to be well positioned, has to act strategically and has to get lots of cooperation from the bishops of the world,'' he said.

Even support from a broad basis, however, might not be enough for a new pope to put his stamp on the Church, he said.

"What good are [such] authorizations for the pope if the system quickly takes him prisoner? This is coming out more and more in the analyses, and may have been a significant factor of the resignation'' of Benedict, he said.

  • Pope Benedict greets the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, April 19, 2005.
  • Pope Benedict blesses a baby as he rides around St. Peter's Square to hold his last general audience at the Vatican Feb. 27, 2013.
  • Pope Benedict appears on a giant screen in a packed St. Peter's Square at the Vatican during his last general audience, February 27, 2013.
  • Pope Benedict arrives to attend a meeting with seminarians at the Romano Maggiore seminary in Rome, February 8, 2013.
  • Pope Benedict waves as he arrives to lead the weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, April 18, 2012.
  • Pope Benedict wears a sombrero, a traditional Mexican hat, while being driven through the crowd before officiating a mass in Silao, Mexico, March 25, 2012.
  • Pope Benedict holds his cross as he leads a solemn mass in Zagreb, Croatia, June 5, 2011.
  • Pope Benedict visits the Ardeatine Caves Memorial in Rome, Italy, March 27, 2011.
  • Pope Benedict leaves after an audience with Vatican-accredited diplomats at the Vatican, January 10, 2011.
  • Pope Benedict visits the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem's Old City, May 12, 2009.
  • Pope Benedict waves to the crowd gathered in Saint Peter's square during his weekly Angelus blessing at the Vatican, May 16, 2010.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama meet with Pope Benedict at the Vatican, July 10, 2009.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid