The top contenders, part II

Eugene Girin continues his profile of the cardinals most likely to be chosen as the next pope:

More Top Contenders

Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, 77 (Paris, France)

Cardinal Lustiger, the Archbishop of Paris, became one of the top contenders for the papacy early this week. His natural charisma and devotion to spreading the Catholic Faith have made him a favorite of the late John Paul II.

Jean-Marie Lustiger (born Aaron Lustiger) is ethnically Jewish, and, like most other Jews in Nazi-occupied France, his Polish Jewish parents perished in a death camp during the Holocaust. The future archbishop of Paris was taken in by a devoutly Catholic family and became Catholic at the age of fourteen.

Cardinal Lustiger sees his mission as the re-evangelization of secularized France, which he calls “the First Daughter of the Church.” In this, the charismatic cardinal has been remarkably successful. Lustiger was especially victorious in his outreach to the leftist and ultra-secularized French intelligentsia, some of whom recovered their faith as a result of Cardinal Lustiger’s evangelizing. As Uwe Simeon-Netto wrote in the UPI, “No sooner did he [Lustiger] ascend to the Paris See than he targeted intellectuals, preaching to them every Sunday evening at his cathedral, Notre Dame de Paris.”

Jean-Marie Lustiger’s devotion to the Church and sincere desire to re-Christianize Europe make him a somewhat acceptable candidate for traditionalist conservatives. However, he is not as traditionalist as Cardinal Ratzinger and has not been vocally opposed to the Muslim immigration that is destroying France. (See Wikipedia article on Cardinal Lustiger.]

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, 62 (Tegucigalpa, Honduras)

Cardinal Maradiaga is the Archbishop of Tegucigalpa and Honduras’ first cardinal. Oscar Maradiaga is somewhat of a celebrity among Latin American Catholics because he is relatively young, very active (Maradiaga is an avid aviator and exercises a few hours each day), speaks eight languages, and has degrees in philosophy, clinical psychology, theology, and psychotherapy.

While Cardinal Maradiaga holds strictly traditionalist views on such issues as abortion, contraception, and adultery, he is outspokenly leftwing on geopolitical issues and has made some openly anti-American comments. For example, Maradiaga is a vehement supporter of “debt relief” for Third World countries and has blamed American “neoliberal economic policies” for bringing poverty to Latin America. He has also blamed the United States for morally corrupting Latin American countries.

Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga would be a bad choice for traditionalist conservatives. Aside from his traditionalist stance on sexuality, Maradiaga is typical Latin American leftist who is more interested in self-promotion and publicity than in spreading the Gospel. Furthermore, his election is unlikely because at the age of sixty-two he might be considered too young to become pontiff. Apparently the cardinals are looking for an older man this time so that he will not be able to make such a lasting impression on the Church as the late pope. This is ironic, as the cardinals elected the 58-year-old Karol Wojtyla in 1978 partly because they wanted a pope would would not die soon. The result was one of the longest papacies in history, and now, in reaction, they seem to want an older man who won’t stay around too long.

Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, 71 (Head of the Congregation of Bishops)

Cardinal Re is a veteran Vatican diplomat and has held various posts in the Secretariat of State until his appointment as head of the Congregation of Bishops, which can be best described as the Vatican’s human resources department.

Giovanni Re’s experience, amiable personality, and personal friendship with most of the world’s bishops and cardinals make him a serious contender for the papacy. He is a traditionalist on “domestic issues” even though he expressed support for greater de-centralization of the Church and more emphasis on local laity.

Cardinal Re’s views on external matters are unknown, but we can assume that as a career diplomat he will not be outspoken against Islamic immigration and other geopolitical issues. While Re is a better choice than posturing leftists like Hummes and Maradiaga, he will not be more traditionalist than the previous pope.

Cardinal Angelo Scola, 63 (Patriarch of Venice)

Cardinal Scola is the senior Catholic cleric of Venice, a city that has produced three popes in the twentieth century alone. He was previously the head of the Pontifical Institute on Marriage and the Family. Scola is steadfastly traditionalist on issues such as abortion, contraception, and divorce but is a strong supporter of interfaith dialogue and other moderate external views. His views (traditionalist on “internal” matters, but moderate on geopolitical ones) make him a younger, slimmer, and slightly more traditionalist version of Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi. Therefore, traditionalist conservatives should be wary of his election.

Cardinal Scola’s current position and Italian nationality make him a strong contender, but his relatively young age is a major obstacle to his election.

Eugene Girin will be attending CUNY Baruch College as a junior this fall. He is 20 years old and has been published by, Think-Israel, Israel National News, and other websites in the U.S., Israel, and Russia.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 15, 2005 01:17 PM | Send

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