Tuesday, April 05, 2005

My Brief Thoughts on Pope John Paul II

To begin, I will disclose that I am not Catholic, nor have I ever been baptized under any religion. That should not disqualify me from rendering my thoughts of the late Pope John Paul II. chances are that my opinion will be concurring like most others that have written or spoken their thoughts about him.

Like most others in my age bracket, he is the only Pope I grew up knowing, even though there was Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul I. He reached out to everybody, regardless of religious background, because he saw all of us as the Father's children. Listening to soundbites from his visit to Philadelphia in 1979, and a visit to Boston, reiterated it.

"I am your friend!", he said to those attending Mass.

The crowd roared in approval in both cities, and practically anywhere he went.

In my opinion, the Catholic church has come a long way under his reign. Is it perfect? No, and I do no think that anybody would have that expectation. He had a strict interpretation of the charter and was not afraid to express hius views, even if it was against the popular point of view. He was consistent and fair to all. He was unlike any other Pope the world has ever witnessed. His warm smile, and interpersonal reach for all, is what this world needs more of. He was well-respected by all, and had respect for all of us.

Karol Joseph Wojtyla, the Lord has welcomed you home. Your legacy as Pope John Paul II will eventually be known as Pope John Paul The Great. You were an inspiration to all of us, and will never be forgotten.

Requiem In Pacem, Holy Father.

Monday, April 04, 2005

George Carlin's Views on Aging/ How To Stay Young (Medley)

Before I begin to type what was sent to me, I figured that it would be appropriate to do this, since today is my birthday.



Do you realize that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we're kids? If you're less than 10 years old, you're so excited about aging that you think in fractions.

"How old are you?" "I'm four and a half!" you're never thirty-six and a half. You're four and a half, going on five! That's the key.

You get into your teens, now hey can't hold you back. You jump to the next number, or even a few ahead.

"How old are you?" "I'm gonna be 16!" You could be 13, but hey, you're gonna be 16! And then the greatest day of your life- you become 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony... YOU BECOME . YESSSS!!!

But then you turn 30. Oooohh, what happened there? Makes you sound like bad milk. He TURNED; we had to throw him out. There's no fun now, you're Just a sour-dumpling. What's wrong? What's changed?

You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, then you're PUSHING 40.

Whoa! Put on the brakes, it's all slipping away. Before you know it, you REACH 50 and your dreams are gone.

But wait!!! You MAKE it to 60. You didn't think you would!

So you BECOME 21, TURN 30, PUSH 40, REACH 50, and MAKE it to 60.

You've built up so much speed that you HIT 70! After that it's a day-by-day thing; you HIT Wednesday!

You get into your 80s and every day is a complete cycle; you HIT lunch; you TURN 4:30; you REACH bedtime.

And it doesn't end there. Into the 90s, you start going backwards; "I Was JUST 92."

Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again. "I'm 100 and a half!"



1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight, and height. Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay "them".

2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.

3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. "An idle mind is the devil's workshop." And the devil's name is Alzheimer's.

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.

6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is with us our entire lives is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.

7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.

8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county; to a foreign country but NOT to where the guilt is.

10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.


Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Please share this with someone. We all need to live life to its fullest each day.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Long profiles of possible candidates for next Pope

Joyce Comments: The decent people of the world mourn the death of Karol Wojtyla a.k.a. Pope John Paul II. This great Polish man, born on May 18, 1920, in a seemingly kind way brought the worlds religions together to have better relations through his style, deep convictions of theology and ideology, and sense of humor. His successor should hold up what Pope John Paul II accomplished and continue where he left off. Speaking of his successor, detailed profiles of possible candidates who may be under consideration are available. Of the list, these three candidates stand out as prime candidates who could continue and or supplement Pope John Paul II's work. They are:

Long profiles of possible candidates for next Pope

VATICAN CITY April 3 (Reuters) - Following are sketches of Roman Catholic cardinals considered possible candidates to succeed Pope John Paul as leader of the world's some one billion Roman Catholics. They are listed in alphabetical order.


Cardinal Francis Arinze was for nearly 20 years the Vatican's point man for relations with Islam, a key issue cardinals choosing the next pope will have to take into consideration.

If elected, he would become the first African pope in more than 1,500 years.

Arinze has been working at the Vatican since 1984, when Pope John Paul named him as head of the department that handles relations with all non-Christian religions except Judaism.

He rose to cardinal the following year, becoming one of the Church's highest-ranking Africans at the young age of 52. Arinze had becomed a bishop at 32, only seven years after he was ordained priest.

He also served as president of the Nigerian Bishops' Conference for five years before the Pope called him to Rome. Since 2002, he has been head of the Vatican department overseeing the details of methods of divine worship.

Aides say Arinze is sometimes seen walking to his office near the Vatican, clutching rosary beads while praying and smiling all the time.

The cardinal, who changes the topic qickly when told he is a possible candidate for the papacy, believes the church should not seal itself off from the world.

"The Church is part of society. The Christians are not a race apart. Therefore the successes of their society and the problems of society are also their successes and their problems," he said in an interview.

A theological conservative, Arinze has worked as a consultant to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican department that keeps an eye on doctrinal integrity.

Born into an animist family in the village of Eziowelle, he was not baptised until the age of nine, when he converted to Catholicism.

Arinze was greatly influenced as a boy by one of Nigeria's first native priests, Father Cyprian Michael Tansi.

"Our traditional religion also worships one God, not two or more. And he is a good God," Arinze once said of his conversion.

"But he is distant from man. Man thus makes sacrifices to the spirits and ancestors in hope that they will reach this far-away God. In Christianity, God is very close to man... Christianity seemed to me more abounding in joy."

Arinze has been the key player for the Vatican in its sometimes difficult relations with Muslims.

While he was head of the Vatican department for non-Christians, Arinze sent a message every year to the world's Muslims on the occasion of the fasting period Ramadan.

Relations between the two religions became increasingly important to the Vatican in the 1980s and 1990s as Christianity and Islam often appeared to be on a collision course, particularly in Africa, and as Islamic fundamentalism spread.



If elected as the next pope, Buenos Aires Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio would be the first member of the influential Jesuit order to rise to the top of the Roman Catholic Church.

Reserved and humble, he would also present a striking personal contrast to the outgoing Pope John Paul, who revolutionised the papacy by criss-crossing the globe and meeting everyone from world leaders to simple peasants.

Bergoglio has shied away from high offices in the past, such as head of the Argentine bishops' conference or a possible senior Vatican post, but his simple lifestyle and leadership skills have kept his name among potential successors.

Unusual for a senior prelate, he first studied chemistry before deciding to enter the priesthood. Ordained in 1969 at the late age of 33, he was named provincial, or head of all Jesuits in Argentina, only four years later.

After six years as provincial, he held several academic posts and pursued further study in Germany. He came back into public attention when he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires in 1992 and then archbishop in 1998.

Stories of his humility abound. When he was appointed a cardinal in 2001, Bergoglio convinced hundreds of Argentines not to fly to Rome to celebrate with him but to donate to the poor the money they had raised for their airline tickets.

He declined to move into the luxurious archbishop's residence, preferring a simple apartment nearby where he lives with an old bishop and usually cooks dinner himself.

He gets around town mostly by bus, often wearing the cassock of a simple priest rather than any episcopal finery.

In 2000, as the Pope apologised for the Church's sins down the centuries, Bergoglio had clergy wear garments of penance for sins committed during the country's military dictatorship.

In contrast to many activist Latin American priests, Bergoglio prefers to stress the spiritual side of his calling and urges the faithful to follow Christ's example more fully rather than preach about the need for social justice.

The new cardinal won respect from his fellow prelates at the 2001 synod of bishops by stepping in at the last minute for a colleague and helping manage the meeting with skill.

Bergoglio, who speaks his native Spanish, Italian and German, was promptly mentioned as a possible head of an important Vatican department but he begged off, saying: "Please, I would die in the Curia."

Bergoglio is said to be close to Communion and Liberation, one of the conservative movements that Pope John Paul has championed as a way to revitalise the Church in the face of growing secularisation in developed countries.

The fact Bergoglio is a Jesuit could work against him, as the influential order was founded in the 16th century to serve the popes and even some Jesuits oppose the idea of one of their number becoming one.



Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos is one of the leading candidates from Latin America to become Pope because he has the broadest range of experience and is in the right age bracket.

Castrillon Hoyos has long experience working and running several dioceses in his native Colombia, where he served in the cities of Villa del Re, Pereira and Bucaramanga.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, he held powerful and influential posts as secretary and later president of CELAM, the conference that groups all of Latin America's bishops.

He played pivotal roles in steering the continent's Catholic Churches away from controversial Liberation Theology during one of Latin America's most difficult and violent periods.

To reward him, the Pope called Castrillon Hoyos to Rome in 1996 and put him at the head of the powerful Congregation for the Clergy, which deals with priests around the world.

He is considered an intelligent and very spiritual man who is extremely loyal to the Pope.

In guiding his department at the Vatican, he has emphasised that priests should remind followers of Christ and not be just a social figure.

A youthful looking man with a shock of white hair, Castrillon Hoyos has often used his position of influence in the Vatican to draw attention to the problems of Latin America.

In 1997, a little-known French magazine accused him of receiving money from drug traffickers when he was bishop in Colombia.

Castrillon Hoyos called the report insulting and said it stemmed from when a drug trafficker had decided to change his ways and convert. The trafficker decided to give all his money to the poor through the bishop.

"I have never seen a cent of drug money," he said in a 1997 interview with an Italian Catholic magazine. "It was me who made public the trafficker's decision to give his money to the poor." ------


Cardinal Godfried Danneels, the jovial archbishop of Brussels, is a outspoken preacher who ranks as the main moderate contender for the papacy. A vote for him would be a vote for changes in the way the Catholic Church is governed.

A key player at recent synods, Danneels has often spoken out on controversial issues such as whether the Pope should resign, if condoms can be used in the fight against AIDS and whether women should have a larger role in running the Church.

He has been especially strong calling for more collegiality, or power sharing between the Vatican and cardinals and bishops around the world. Church decision-making became more centralised under John Paul.

Views like these could disqualify a candidate, but Danneels is no maverick and cannot be written off easily.

He has been firm in upholding Church teachings when necessary, such as suspending a rebel priest living with a gay partner and running an unorthodox "rent-a-priest" service.

Born in 1933 in western Flanders, Danneels studied in Rome and was a theology professor at the Catholic University of Louvain before being named bishop of Antwerp in 1977.

Two years later, he was appointed archbishop of Brussels and earned his red hat as cardinal in 1983. Apart from his active role in synods, he was also chairman of the Catholic human rights movement Pax Christi International from 1990 to 1997.

In recent years, Danneels urged the Church to scale back the power of the Vatican and focus less on the Pope -- remarks he made clear were aimed at a general trend towards centralism rather than any criticism of John Paul as a person.

He has also predicted that future popes would probably abdicate before they died because modern medicine was extending life far longer than before.

"We live too long and people cannot continue to carry that responsibility if they turn 90 or 100. It doesn't matter how well they are looked after," he said.

On the controversial issue of using condoms to fight AIDS, he said he preferred that HIV-positve people abstain from sex.

If they did have sex, not using a condom would mean breaking the sixth commandment "thou shalt not kill." That would take precedence over the Church ban on artificial birth control.

On another touchy subject, Danneels has spoken out in favour of appointing more women in top functions in the Vatican hierarchy. "I don't see why a woman should not be able to run a congregation of the Roman Curia," he said, referring to the departments of the Church government.

Heading the congregation for nuns, for example, or the one for the laity should be open to women, he said.

But the cardinal stopped short of saying women should be allowed to become priests and made a distinction between priesthood -- which is only open to men -- and the administration.

Danneels, who can spin powerful sermons out of simple phrases and images, is one of the most media-friendly members of the College of Cardinals and gives frequent interviews in his native Dutch or English, French and Italian.

As his own Church's Web site notes: "As a Church leader, he rarely avoids a talk with the media."



Although born in Bombay and now its archbishop, Cardinal Ivan Dias has spent most of his adult life serving the Church outside of India.

That career path could explain his status as an Asian prelate more in tune with conservative Vatican thinking than with the more socially active and theologically inclusive views that have emerged in the Church in Asia.

Born in 1936 in India's financial capital, Dias spent his first three years as a priest doing pastoral work in Bombay. He then went to Rome for further study, the first step towards a career in the hierarchy.

In 1964, he joined the Church's diplomatic service and spent the next 30 years working in nunciatures, or papal embassies, around the world and as a desk officer in the Vatican's Secretariat of State.

Dias held junior postings in Scandinavia, Indonesia and Madagascar until 1973, when he took over the Vatican desk responsible for relations with the Communist world -- including the Soviet Union and China -- as well as parts of Africa.

He was appointed pro-nuncio in Ghana in 1982 and nuncio in South Korea in 1987 and then Albania in 1991.

After this long diplomatic career, Dias returned home in 1997 as archbishop of Bombay. Catholics make up only 1.8 percent of India's majority Hindu population of one billion and face harassment and outright persecution from increasingly aggressive Hindu nationalist groups.

Pope John Paul sparked a controversy among Hindus when, on a visit to India in 1999, he defended the Church's right to seek converts there. Dias has echoed this view and brushed off warnings that proselytism could lead to persecution.

"I think persecutions are to be expected," he said in 2001 when he was named a cardinal. "These vexations are a presage of the new springtime for the Church in the years ahead."

With its rich mix of religions, India has fostered new paths in Catholic theology that see God at work in all religions -- a view the Vatican denounces as a dilution of Catholic doctrine.

Dias has agreed with the Vatican, saying the new interpretation was supported by "avant garde theologians" but not the majority of the faithful.

He has also defended the Vatican's conservative message on moral issues, denouncing abortion and homosexual acts.

Frequently invited to speak at conferences abroad, Dias is fluent in Hindi, English, Italian, French and Spanish.



Cardinal Claudio Hummes, archbishop of Sao Paolo, could once have been considered a revolutionary prelate. Now he is seen as a moderate and maybe even a conservative.

During the socially volatile 1970s in Brazil, he was considered very progressive. As bishop of the diocese of Santo Andre, he opposed the military government and supported strikes by workers.

He used to allow union leaders to make political speeches during his masses. When industrialists asked him to mediate in a strike negotiation, he refused, saying the Church had to take the side of the workers.

When he became archbishop of Sao Paolo, the largest archdiocese in the world's largest Roman Catholic country, Hummes had a hard act to follow.

His predecessor, Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns, was an extremely outspoken defender of human rights who was not afraid of taking on the military dictatorship, which lasted from 1964 to 1985, or the Vatican itself.

When he was chosen to lead Sao Paulo, Hummes, a Franciscan like his predecessor, asked his people to receive him "without any kind of prejudice because I intend to be the bishop of everyone."

He has refused to allow himself to be labelled progressive or conservative. Like Arns before him, Hummes has said his biggest challenge was how to deal with the country's immense poverty.

As he became older, Hummes defended his change to a less political and more spiritual, conservative approach to problems.

"I don't feel unfaithful to myself. What was changed in the political situation, our kind of analysis and our kind of response," he told a newspaper interviewer.

The Pope had little time for Liberation Theology, which advocated a class struggle and used Marxist social analysis to defend the poor.

In choosing Hummes to run Sao Paulo, the Pope was apparently looking for someone who had sowed his wild theological oats as a younger bishop and whose concern for the poor was dictated purely by the Gospel and not by politics.

Still, Hummes has made it clear that it was sometimes difficult to keep the two separate.

He has criticised government policies he says have increased unemployment but defended private property and distanced himself from the Landless Movement, which encourages jobless rural workers to occupy unused land.

One of 14 children, Hummes was born on August 8, 1934 to parents who had immigrated from Germany. He became a priest in 1958 and a bishop in 1975. He received a degree in philosophy in Rome and a masters degree in ecumenism in Switzerland.



Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez emerged as one of the major players in the Church in Latin America after he was made archbishop of Santo Domingo in 1981 at the relatively young age of 45.

In 1992, a year after Pope John Paul made him a cardinal, he hosted a major gathering of bishops from North and South America to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas.

Just a year after he was made cardinal, he had to step into the fray of a heated presidential campaign.

Communists in the Dominican Republic, one of Latin America's poorest countries, had asked Catholics to cooperate in the fight against injustice.

Lopez Rodriguez argued that communist ideology was based on class struggle and that it could not be reconciled with Catholic teaching. He said class struggle "runs on the premise of hate, and that makes it impossible for Christians to cooperate."

The cardinal, former president of the Dominican bishops' justice and peace commission, was instrumental in opening a legal aid centre for Haitian immigrants and Dominican peasants.

Lopez Rodriguez is considered a doctrinal conservative and a staunch opponent of liberation theology, which has tried to combine elements of the gospel with Marxism.



Apart from study in Rome, Lisbon's Cardinal Jose da Cruz Policarpo has spent his whole priestly life in his native Portugal and is little known to Catholics outside Portuguese-speaking countries.

But this theological moderate has impressed other cardinals in Europe and Latin America, where a Portuguese prelate can serve as a link between the two continents.

"If Policarpo is elected Pope, almost everyone outside the College of Cardinals will ask 'who is he?'," a Church official said before the conclave. "But among the cardinals, they've been talking about him for years."

Born in 1936 near Lisbon, Policarpo has been a seminary rector, theology professor and then rector of the Catholic University of Portugal between 1988 and 1996.

He was named head of the Portuguese bishops' conference in 1999 and became a cardinal in 2001.

Policarpo has stood out as a moderate in an increasingly conservative Church, especially in reaching out for dialogue with non-Christians and stressing the value of other faiths.

In the Jubilee Year 2000, he stood before the church where the Inquisition once held its hearings and publicly apologised to the local Jewish community for the expulsions and forced conversions imposed on them in the 16th century.

"The Catholic Church recognizes that her memory is deeply stained by these words and deeds, so often carried out in her name, which are unworthy of human dignity and of the Gospel she proclaims," he said.

Amid a controversy in 2000 after the Vatican issued the "Dominus Iesus" document saying that other faiths were deficient, Policarpo eased relations with Protestants and Jews by decrying "fundamentalist intransigence whereby the defence of our truths becomes a focus of disunion."

He said it was right that each faith "preserves its tradition and stays loyal to the truth it believes, but this fidelity must accept and respect the fidelity of others."

This openness has earned him criticism from traditionalist groups upset that he has allowed inter-religious conferences to take place at Fatima, the pilgrimage site where the Virgin Mary was said to have appeared to three peasant children in 1917.

Policarpo has also been active in a western European movement to revitalise the Catholic faith in big cities, where attendance at Sunday Mass is dwindling and many young people grow up with no religious education at all.

"People have lost all hope, in work, in the family, in love and in politics. People cannot live without joy, without hope, hence the urgent need to propose values which help city people adopt a positive attitude," he said in late 2004.



Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger seems typecast for the role of doctrinal watchdog he has played at the Vatican since 1981.

Under his meek demeanour lies a steely intellect ready to dissect theological works for their dogmatic purity and debate fiercely against dissenters.

His traditionalist judgments have delighted fellow conservatives and outraged liberal Catholics and members of other faiths.

Born in Bavaria in 1927, Ratzinger first gained attention as a liberal theological advisor at the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). The Marxism and atheism of the 1968 student protests across Europe prompted him to become more conservative to defend the faith against growing secularism.

After stints as a leading theology professor and then archbishop of Munich, Ratzinger was appointed head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the successor office to the Inquisition, in 1981.

In that office, Ratzinger first turned towards "liberation theology" popular in Latin America, quieting its theologians.

In 1986, he issued a firm Vatican denunciation of homosexuality and gay marriage. He brought pressure to bear in the 1990s against theologians, mostly in Asia, who saw non-Christian religions as part of God's plan for humanity.

A 2004 document sternly denounced "radical feminism" as an ideology that undermined the family and obscured the natural differences between men and women.

His combative side came out in 2000 in a dispute over a CDF document entitled Dominus Iesus (Lord Jesus). Aimed at restating the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church against the more inclusive view developing in Asia, it branded other Christian denominations as deficient or not quite real churches.

Anglican, Lutheran and other Protestant churches which had been in ecumenical dialogue with Rome for years were shocked. They were further upset when Ratzinger dismissed protests from Lutherans as "absurd."

One of Pope John Paul's closest advisers, Ratzinger grew in power over the years. In 2002, he added an influential post when he became dean of the College of Cardinals, which elects the next pontiff.

In that role, he will preside over Pope John Paul's funeral and address the cardinals before they vote in conclave. This enhanced role has fuelled speculation that he could be a leading candidate for the papacy.


Giovanni Battista Re may know the inner workings of the Vatican better than anyone else alive today. This could either hurt or help him during a conclave to elect the next Pope.

Cardinals might be looking for an ace administrator and bureaucrat to stay at home and take care of business following the globetrotting papacy of John Paul II.

If so, they need look no further than Re, who knows the corridors of the power in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace better than the cleaners.

Re has been working in the Vatican bureaucracy for all but the first year of the papacy of John Paul. Since 1979, he has held key positions in the Secretariat of State, ending his stint there in late 2000 after serving as deputy secretary of state for 11 years.

He is considered an ultra-loyalist who has helped solve some of the most thorny administrative problems for the Pope.

The Pope rewarded him in September, 2000 by appointing him to head the Congregation for Bishops, the powerful department which decides the future careers of aspiring Church men.

The congregation is called the "bishops factory."

The son of a carpenter from northern Italy, Re is a workaholic who regularly puts in 16-hour days.

Although he is a favourite of the Italian media, Re's chances of being elected Pope would be hurt by his near total lack of experience in dioceses outside Rome.

He entered the Vatican's diplomatic service in 1963 as a young priest and served in embassies in Panama and Iran before starting in the Secretariat of State in 1971.



Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriquez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras is one of the youngest men to enter the conclave to elect a Pope. While youth may be an asset in the race for many jobs, it can be a handicap in getting elected Pope.

Since popes usually rule for life, not everyone in the Church thinks the job should be given to someone who could hold it for 30 years or more if his health permits.

However, if the cardinals in the conclave decide otherwise, as they did in 1978 when they elected Pope John Paul at age 58, Rodriquez Maradiaga would have many of the qualifications.

He can communicate in many languages besides his native Spanish: English, Italian, French, Portuguese and German.

A defender of the poor, Rodriguez Maradiaga believes the real solution to the problems of Latin America and all the developing world is social justice.

"Justice will have to be the agenda for the 21st century in all the countries of Latin America," he told reporters in 2001, the year he was made a cardinal. "Many times justice comes only for people who are rich. The poor have no right to have justice," he said, decrying the "cancer" of corruption.

He accused many people in Latin America of getting into politics merely to become rich. Such was his prestige in his country that the president of Honduras asked him to head a commission that eventually decided to abolish the secret police.

His outspokenness was not limited to home.

Visiting Rome in May 2002, he said he believed Pope John Paul would have the courage to resign rather than rule for life if health problems made it impossible for him to run the church.

While senior cardinals had made similar comments in the past, they were unusual for someone who was a "new kid on the block," made a cardinal only a year before.

He has dropped hints that the next pope should come from the Third World. "A pope from the global South could be a tool of providence to at least lessen the North-South conflict if not solve it," he said in September 2003.

The cardinal worked as a teacher in the 1960s before he was ordained a priest in Germany in 1970.

Rodriguez Maradiaga's credentials in Latin America were firmly established by 1995, when he was elected to a five-year term as president of CELAM, the Latin American bishops conference.



Christoph Schoenborn, the archbishop of Vienna, has everything going for him as a candidate for the next papacy -- except his age.

He is considered a man of broad intellectual capacity, a linguist, a good communicator, an accomplished theologian, an expert in philosophy and psychology, and a deeply religious man.

But no one wants a papacy that could conceivably last three decades or even more.

Still, because he is considered such a brilliant man, no one is flatly ruling him out either. In 1978, Pope John Paul, an outsider from Poland, became Roman Catholic leader at 58 because the cardinals who entered the conclave considered him the right man at the right time.

Schoenborn may be the right man, but it remains to be seen if his time is right. His day may come the next time around.

Like many others consisdered candidates for the papacy, Schoenborn's star began rising when Pope John Paul called him to Rome to preach to the Pontiff himself and Vatican officials at the annual Lenten retreat.

The Pope traditionally asks men he admires intellectually, morally and spiritually to deliver the sermons. He had delivered Lenten sermons when he was cardinal of Krakow in Poland and was summoned by Pope Paul VI to preach at the Vatican.

Schoenborn comes from a well-to-do family and those close to him say he was given a sense of "noblesse oblige" by his family and taught that he had to use his advantages to serve others.

Those who know him say he feels just at ease talking to a peasant as to a prince.

A member of the Dominican Order, Schoenborn is a doctrinal conservative. He helped in the writing of the new version of the Catholic Church's Universal Catechism.

Although he likes to listen to people, he also likes to play by the rules and expects those under him to do so as well. He has been known to be curt with aides who have not followed his orders.

Schoenborn took over the Vienna diocese in one of its most difficult periods -- at a time of a sex abuse scandal concerning his predecessor, the arch-conservative Cardinal Hand Hermann Groer, and a growing popular movement for reform.

The Austrian Church is one of the most severely divided between conservatives who want to keep the status quo and liberals clamouring for more democracy.

When the Pope last visited Austria in 1998, Schoenborn called for "change, forgiveness, reconciliation and renewal" in the Austrian Church in order to put a difficult past behind it.



As secretary of state, the Vatican's top diplomat, Cardinal Angelo Sodano ranked second only to the Pope in the Roman Catholic church hierarchy.

Sodano made his mark as a diplomat in Chile, where he served as the Pope's representative for more than 10 years. The Pope brought Sodano back to Rome in 1988.

Two years later, he replaced Cardinal Agostino Casaroli as secretary of state.

A theological conservative, Sodano would be unlikely to change any key teachings on matters such as artificial birth control or married priests, which John Paul upheld staunchly.

As ambassador in Chile, Sodano handled a delicate political situation during the rule of military dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Appointed there by Pope Paul VI, Sodano caught John Paul's eye because of his gift for soothing tensions within the Chilean church as it debated how to deal with Pinochet.

"He was consistent (as an ambassador) and that was noticed," one Vatican official said of Sodano. "He doesn't get worked up about things. His attitude was, you do it, and that's your job."

Catholic progressives claim Sodano's job in Chile was to impose the Vatican's will, especially through the appointment of a series of conservative bishops.

His critics have called him a dry bureaucrat with little sense of humour.

As the Pope grew older and more frail, it was clear that Sodano was consolidating his power in the Vatican bureaucracy in order to have more influence in choosing his successor.

Sodano's influence over the Pope was clear in the Pontiff's choice for new cardinals in the 2001 consistory. A number of new men were Vatican bureaucrats inside Sodano's sphere of power.

Sodano was born the second of six children into a farming family in Italy's northern Piedmont region. Ordained a priest in 1950, he taught theology at the local seminary before entering the Church's diplomatic service in 1961.

A mark against Sodano as a possible successor to the Pope is that he has no experience of running a diocese.



Dionigi Tettamanzi, the cardinal-archbishop of Milan, is at the top of the list of Italian candidates to succeed Pope John Paul II.

An intellectual, former seminary rector and prolific writer who helped Pope John Paul write some of his encyclicals, the "little Lombard" has a lot of friends and few enemies.

Born in Renate, near Milan, in 1934, he entered the seminary at the age of 11 and earned a reputation as a bookworm. Friends remember him hunched over a desk or at prayer in the chapel, shunning invitations to join them on the school soccer pitch.

He was ordained in 1957 by the then-archbishop of Milan, Giovanni Battista Montini, who went on to become Pope Paul VI.

As a theologica

04/02/2005 20:42