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

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid