The Papal Transition: Note Two, The Succession

by Frank Wynerth Summers III on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 11:35am ·
On March 1, 2013 the College of Cardinals will gather in Conclave with the hopes of electing a Pope by Easter. In this case they really mean by the end of the Lenten Season and before Holy Week. In addition, anything is possible. What can we hope for and look for in the conclave and in the new Pope who will emerge. What is possible is very broad. That is not because the Catholic Church is like the United States which has such low and small constitutional requirements for its head. Here we only require a Native Born Citizen over thrity five years of age elected by the Electoral College. In the church the minimum requirements are a baptized Christian who before being pope will be rightly ordained in the Priesthood and Episcopate within the true Apostolic Succession. But that line is abundant now and availalable and just as the US President has many legal and conventional requirements beyond the constitution so the Church has many qualifications it seeks and this goes back to the start of things when a Patriarchate was being filled for the first time.

First Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles verses fifteen and following describe a process: “In those days Peter stood up among the believers* (together the crowd numbered about one hundred and twenty people) and said, “….So one of the men who have accompanied us throughout the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.’So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.Then they prayed and said, ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place* in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.’And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.” The system has changed despite Petrine primacy, continuity, experince and other matters being important then and now. Th current Pope is not Judas and is not dead either but their will be saerch for qualified men of good character and a trust in the Holy Spirit to complete the process.

I have been distracted from this transition by the death of Austin Rivault. He has not only been killed but has been maligned as breaking into a pick-up truck which is hard to believe because of the season, the nearness to his own home and everything else about the case. His shooter has been accused of first degree murder and is perhaps in part a victim of the crime tolerance of our times. But is not excusable in large terms no matter what the facts may be. Austin was a neighbor whose story is told very differently by the father of another boy shot and not killed in the same incident. This man has said publicly and on Facebook that Austin and his two companions had been gathered with other friends at another friend’s house for a bit of a party just down the street after attending a Mardi Gras parade on Saturday. According to him Austin Rivault began to walk back to his home “a few blocks away.” His two companions borrowed a truck from the older brother of someone else at the party and started to drive Rivault home. They had slowed dwon and were almost home when they were shot according to this story. Austin is like all of us including those bing considered for Pope in that his and our reputations are all so fragile and susceptible to misunderstanding. But the chrurch has been sorting through men for this job for a long time. It seems trivial compared to Autin’s tragedy but I am also aware that someone from my hometown Antony Levine may have been on two Superbowl teams with the Packers and the recent Ravens with very little local press. The lack comes from the fact that he moved away before high school and is not in the sportswriters records. Nothing compared to the tragedy of Austin but a disappointment to his relatives. So too, the Cardinals will be prayerful, political, professional and have many points of view but they can only see a handful of candidtates as an entire conclave clearly and those have the best chances whether that seems fair or not. The Chruch is a part of our imperfect world.

The possibility of a Superior General from one of three major religious orders is perhaps more real than in several centuries. These non cardinals are not included in this very compressed note. It would signal a fairly radical shift in response to fairly grave challenges. This is one of the notes when I am tempted to leave aside personal commentary and the interweaving of personal experiences. However, although tempted I will probably eave this in with other stories nonetheless and make this a very personal sort of comment upon and analysis of these issues. I think the world gets pretty small near the top and a lot of people do connect with one another. I would not be surprised if the Pope were to do some writing and undertake some scholarship in the last years of his life that he could not involve himself with effectively as Pope. If that happens it will be related to material and concerns made more relevant and in a manner which has been inspired by the experiences of his papacy. I would not be surprised if the geopolitlics of our time had contributed to the abdication or resignation of the Pope. In the same way the conclave will occur the context of our time and the situation of the gathering Cardinals.

Radical Options that are not Impossible

A very qualified man among these extreme outsiders would be Father Adolfo Nicolás Pachón S.J., S.T.D. , The Superior General of the Society of Jesus who was born April 29, 1936 and is young enough to be a Pope of moderately long papacy. He is the leader of the Society of Jesus—the Roman Catholic religious order, also known as the Jesuits. As the largest male religious order of the Catholic Church, the Society of Jesus is present in virtually every country in the world, currently organized in roughly 100 Provinces and Regions. However they have a strong tradition of not contending for the Papacy from this unique position and there are countless other obstacles. However, in addition to being present to most local churches and cultures, the Society is an international body, and has always sought ways to strengthen our ministries via international collaboration through the close relationship between two Jesuit Provinces called twinning and the new development by the Society of Jesus of structures called Conferences which bring together Provinces in major geographical areas so that they might work together more effectively. With a huge presence in the Roman Curia and this expertise in dealing with many of the issues facing the Church around the world the COnclave could make a radical choice and elect the Most Reverend Adolfo Nicolás, S.J. who is generally addressed as Father General but whose position has long carried the nickname of Black Pope, after his simple black priest’s vestments, as contrasted to the white garb of the Pope. Father Adolfo Nicolás Pachón, S.J., S.T.D. is a Spanish priest of the Roman Catholic Church. He is I believe the thirtieth (although I find some contradictory documentation) Superior General of the Society of Jesus serving since 2008. Pachon was born in Villamuriel de Cerrato, Palencia, and entered the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits, in 1953 in the novitiate of Aranjuez. He studied at the University of Alcalá, there earning his licentiate in philosophy, until 1960, whence he first traveled to Japan and became familiar with Japanese language and culture. Nicolás entered Sophia University in Tokyo, where he studied theology, in 1964, and was later ordained to the priesthood on March 17, 1967. From 1968 to 1971, he studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, earning their doctorate in theology. Returning to Japan, Fr. Nicolás became professor of systematic theology at his alma mater of Sophia University, teaching there for the next thirty years. He was Director of the East Asian Pastoral Institute at the Ateneo de Manila University, in Quezon City, Philippines, from 1978 to 1984. It was during those years that my father and I studied in a special intensive scripture residential seminar called “Scripture Ventures” which is not in the official registrar’s definition of an EAPI or Ateneo de Manila course but which had a number of significant scholars and faculty from both of those institutions. I also knew many Jesuits in that relatively small world of the Province of Manila. He moved on to Japan not so far off from the time my family temporarily dug up all its roots in the Philippines, Fr. Nicolás and later served as rector of the theologate in Tokyo from 1991 to 1993, when he was appointed Provincial of the Jesuit Province of Japan. Nicolás remained in this post until 1999, and then spent four years doing pastoral work among poor immigrants in Tokyo

Other radical options will not get a biographical sketch here. These radical choices would come from a Western or Eastern general direction. In the Western version besides the Black Pope these options would involve choosing a cleric who is not a cardinal from another large order that has a female sister order and a lay order or from the network that has grown up between the Legionaires of Christ and the Opus Dei movement and institutions. In the Eastern direction I think it is possible that the Conclave would elect a bishop from on of the Eastern rites whether titled bishop or an analgous episcopal rank. Such a man would have patored married priests and while married priests cannot become bishops in the Eastern rites or in their Orthodox Communion counterparts the Conclave would probably gor for one of the rare widowed bishops. However, a prominent Eastern rite widowed bishop in the Roman Catholic Church is only slightly less rare than a unicorn. But this would be a real form of engagement with a whole set of sexual, ecumenical, women’s and geopolitical issues which would show the kind of strength of purpose which elected John Paul II in his time.

One of the valuable aspects of an interregnum is that it reminds us of the uncertainty of most things. Mainly we do not know what will happen next and that is a valuable thing to remember. However, there are very slim chances that any of the routes delineated above will be followed.

The Main Chance

I would say the odds are ninety percent that the next Pope will be a Roman rite cardinal. That is my calculation although not everyone on the list that follows is a cardinal. If I had to guess, I would say the odds are above fifty percent (and could be as high as ninety percent that the next Pope currently goes under one of the following names and titles Peter Kodwo Appiah Cardinal Turkson, Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Francis Cardinal Arinze, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, Angelo Cardinal Scola, Oscar Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga, Wilfred Fox Cardinal Napier, Dionigi Cardinal Tettamanzi, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, Angelo Cardinal Bagnasco, Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, Archbishop Raymond Burke, Norberto Cardinal Rivera Carrera, Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, Leonardo Cardinal Sandri, Claudio Cardinal Hummes, Odilo Cardinal Scherer, Camillo Cardinal Ruini, Christoph Cardinal Schoenborn, Ivan Cardinal Dias, Francisco Javier Cardinal Errazuriz Ossa, Cardinal William Levada, George Cardinal Pell,
or Monsignor Pietro Parolin, Thomas Stafford Cardinal Williams.

Arinze and Turkson are black Africans and it may not be the election in which they have enough votes in that direction. Race is a barrier that cuts both ways and this is Arinze’s last real chance. Francis Cardinal Arinze is 80 years old and is well respected in his native Nigeria. He has many ties to the Curia and has spent 25 years in the Vatican and is known as being conservative enough to please some who would not want to be tainted with any leftist or liberal influence and yet because he is from Africa Arinze may also get support from liberal cardinals who want to see the next pope come from the developing world, especially Africa with its 176 million Catholics, with Arinze’s Nigeria having 20 million practicing Catholics. But this is likely to be diluted by those willing to settle for a bishop from Latin America or to hope Turkson comes in later after another Pope.

Dolan is an American and a real long-shot because of this but it will also make him part of the conversation. Williams is too old now and from a very obscure area of the world as a New Zealander which is both new, somewhat isolated and not a Catholic country but he remains a pastor with numerous reasons to appeal to those looking for another brief pontificate as he has many of the ideal qualities of a caretaker Pope. Burke, Parolin, and Ravasi are not cardinals and are overshadowed by men who have the red hat as well as comparable records.

That means that for me the papabili in this note are as follows: Ouellet, Rosales, Scola, Maradiaga, Napier, Tettamanzi, Bertone, Bagnasco, Bergoglio, Carrera, Sandri, Hummes, Scherer, Ruini, Schoenborn, Dias, Ossa, Levada, or Pell. I guess that there is between a thirty and seventy percent chance in my own analysis as I type this that one of these men will be Pope. Does the Church want to go back to an Italian at this point? That is important. I think there will be a strong push for an Italian and if Scola’s supporters get in front of that push it may well be him. Of these Rosales may be the weakest and on the verge of being an outsider but he brings the most unique support with a large Catholic country in East Asia and the Western Pacific behind him. So let us get back to him after looking at the most likely contenders.

Cardinal Scola may be the overall front runner and is an Italian who was born in Malgrate, Lombardy, to Carlo Scola, a truck driver, and Regina Colombo. He was the younger of two sons his elder brother died in 1983. Scola attended high school at the Manzoni Lyceum in Lecco, and there he participated in Gioventù Studentesca(Student Youth). He studied philosophy in Italy at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart from 1964 to 1967, obtaining his doctorate with a dissertation on Christian philosophy. He was a Vice-President and thereafter President of the Milanese diocesan chapter of the Federazione Universitaria Cattolica Italiana, the university student wing of Catholic Action. He continued his studies at the Saronno and Venegono seminaries in Milan and was ordained a priest in July 1970 in by Bishop Abele Conigli of Teramo-Atri. Later Scola completed a second doctorate in theology from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland where his dissertation treated the works of St. Thomas Aquinas. An active collaborator and the Italianlanguage editor of the journal Communio founded by Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Joseph Ratzinger ( who became Pope Benedict XVI). His ministry has included pastoral work, service as Assistant Professor of Fundamental Moral Theology and after 1982 an appointment as Professor of Theological Anthropology at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Rome and Professor of Contemporary Christology at the Pontifical Lateran University. Prior to this he had also studied elsewhere in Europe and done research in the acadmic posts he hled as well as publishing influential journals. All this came to a focus for him in Rome. There he founded an academic institution called the Studium Generale Marcianum, and published the journal Oasis, published in Italian, English, French, Arabic and Urdu to support Christians in the Muslim world. Scola has also the stamp of orthdoxy as well as intellect having served the Roman Curia as consultor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. His globalism and missionary credentials are also extant despite the ivory tower life in that at the various schools where he taught he helped to establish bursaries to enable foreign students, often from the “third world” dioceses, to study in Italy.

But the Italian vote may split among many strong leads. The second wave will divide among Ouellet, Napier, Hummes, Scherer, Schoenboern and Pell. If one of these groups of votes gathers momentum one of them will be elected. I will give a sketch of the biography of two of these men.

Odilo Pedro Scherer, would be another Tetuon as well as bringing in the New World as he is a German-Brazilian born in Cerro Largo, Rio Grande do Sul, to Edwino and Francisca (née Steffens) Scherer, and is a distant relative of the late Cardinal Archbishop of Porto Alegre Alfredo Scherer. The family of his father orginated from Theley (Tholey) and his mother German roots go to Saarland. Odilo Pedro Scherer completed minor and major seminary studies in Curitiba and studied at the Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná and the Pontifical Gregorian University (from where he obtained his Doctorate of Sacred Theology in 1991) in Rome. He was ordained a priest by Archbishop Armando Círio, OSI, on December 7, 1976. His educational experiences remind us other front runners.Administration and teaching venues have included the diocesan seminary of Cascavel (1977–1978), the diocesan seminary of Toledo (1979–1982, 1993), and the Centro Interdiocesano de Teologia de Cascavel (1991–1993), the Ciências Humanas Arnaldo Busatto (1980–1985), the Instituto Teológico Paulo VI (1985) and the Universidade Estadual do Oeste do Paraná until 1994.

There was ordinary pastoral work interspersed through these years as well and he has seen that brought to fruition. On November 28, 2001, Scherer was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of São Paulo and Titular Bishop of Novi. He received his episcopal consecration on February 2, 2002 from Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, OFM, along with two co-consecrators. He has shown collegial and professional appealmade Secretary General of the Brazilian Episcopal Conference in 2003. This builds on ties to the center which he established when from 1994 to 2001, he was an important official of the Congregation for Bishops in the Roman Curia and after being elevated to Cardinal on June 12, 2008, in addition to his main duties he was appointed by Benedict as a member of the Congregation for the Clergy. On January 5, 2011 he was appointed among the first members of the newly created Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation. This is crucial to the Church’s understanding of these times.

However, there is a North American who is also well-known and popular among the Bishops and Cardinals of Latin America. There is little doubt that he would directly confront the issues in the newspapers and would be a very accessible Pope for many in the United States of America, the Francophone world and the British Commonwealth as well. He would probably be in the English secular press more often than any other man who became Pope. He cares about the issues the mainstream media care about and disagrees with most of them on most of the issues they care about. For many American Catholics he would seem a lifeline.

This hockey-playing, former small-town boy from Quebec became one of Canada’s three cardinals and has at least once predicted that the next pontiff could come from Latin America. In addition to this Canadian media have several times quoted him as saying that he doesn’t want the job because its heavy responsibilities would be “a nightmare.” Yet, from the moment he knelt to kiss John Paul II’s ring and was elevated to the College of Cardinals, many among the knowledgable and those who wish to be thought knowledgeable have speculated openly that Marc Ouellet could assume the Throne of St. Peter. This has only increased since Benedict XVI announced on Monday that his own pontificate is ending. The Quebecois is erudite and speaks five languages, is a relatively young and vigorous 68-year-old Cardinal Ouellet whose missionary and global credits have been earned as a seminary teacher in Colombia. He marries all this New World connectivity with the respectable record of a professor of theology as well as the pastoral care experience of an archbishop in Quebec who never his from from controversy. These are all crowned by the Curia connection of working as a Vatican insider principally responsible for the largest roles in the selection of bishops.

The next development might well be a three headed wave towards one of the other Italians, Rosales or Dolan. If that third wave reconclies on one they could win it. If this does not produce a Pope then there will be a real discussion of everyone on this list, Superiors General and anyone who showed unlikely promise. If there is still no Pope then I think Williams has a chance as do several others…

Gaudencio Borbon Cardinal Rosales (born August 10, 1932) succeeded Jaime Cardinal Sin in 2003 andwould add to other handicaps having retired and been followed in office by Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle in 2011. Tagle would doubtless support him if he was drafted as would the vast Filipino network in the church and some of the rest of Asia. He has experience as Metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Manila, de facto Primate of the Philippines, Archpriest of Manila Cathedral. Rosales was the fourth native Filipino Archbishop of Manila, following centuries of Spanish and Irish-American episcopacy.Rosales is not a white EUropean but for people who long for an aristocratic background in the Pope and can overlook exact color and ethnicity he could have some appeal that has not been recently satisfied he was born in Batangas City, Batangas that few have heard of but was always born to the obligations of gentle birth.. Rosales’ grandfathers were Julian Rosales, a former mayor of the town of Batangas and Pablo Borbon, a former governor of Batangas province. Rosales’ father, Dr. Godofredo Dilay Rosales, was one of the first Filipino physicians to acquire his medical school and residency training exclusively in the United States of America, after which he returned home to practice in Batangas City. Rosales’ mother, Remedios Mayo Borbón, was the first cousin of the great Filipino nationalist, Claro M. Recto who is a towering figure in their homeland. He is the third of 7 siblings. He studied theology at the San Jose Seminary, and had as classmates two other future bishops: Bishop Severino Pelayo, former bishop of the military ordinariate, and Bishop Benjamin Almoneda, former bishop of Daet, Camarines Norte. On March 23, 1958, he was ordained priest by Bishop Alejandro Olalia, and then assigned to teach for 11 years in the seminary of the Archdiocese of Lipa. He was a widely acclaimed parish pastor in a country where parish pastors are important. He was the first bishop of the regular dicoese of Malaybalay and that transition from a prelature is hard to reproduce. I knew him in those days. He has entertained and received a Papal visit to the Philippines. HeHe represents very rich connections in an important national and regional church community.

I have decided to leave Dolan’s sketch out because so many of my readers are Americans and there are better sketches available and he is on our media. He is also learned, a pastor, affable and well connected. If it gets to Williams and Rosales it could also get to him.

Please do not say I promised one of these sketched men will be Pope I have not. In addition, the cardinals will not admit that a process similar to the one I have described occurred even if it does occur. But the thoughts won’t do us any harm. They are also part of the process… Untill the Conclave starts rumours can even have a little influence.

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One response to “The Papal Transition: Note Two, The Succession

  1. Pingback: Papal Canonizations: A Brief Insight | Franksummers3ba's Blog

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