Precinct 333

Sunday, February 27, 2005


UPDATE: APRIL 2, 2005 -- His Holiness, Pope John Paul II has died. For my post on possible successors, click here.

+++Original Post+++

It was sort of interesting to read this article on the eventual election of a successor to Pope John Paul II. It raises some candidates I am not familiar with, and being from the Australian press gives a different slant that American articles do.

But the most interesting part may have been at the end.

The basic personality of the next pope will also be important to the church's prospects around the world as he will be the new face of an institution struggling in many places to hold its market share.

While they might seem alike to outsiders – celibate male church administrators with an average age of about 70 – the cardinals' personal stories are surprisingly diverse.

Frenchman Jean-Marie Lustiger lost his mother at Auschwitz and grew up as a Jewish boy named Aaron wearing the yellow star imposed on Polish Jews by the Nazis; Francis Arinze of Nigeria was born into the Ibo religion and converted at the age of nine; American Adam Maida is a lawyer who has argued before the US Supreme Court; Juan Luis Cipriani was a Peruvian basketball champion; and Czech Miroslav Vlk worked as a window cleaner for eight years after being banned by communist officials from acting as a priest.

I've known bishops and met cardinals, back when I was a seminarian. Sometimes it is easy to forget they are human with life histories as interesting as the rest of us. It's why I wept when Cardinal Bernardin died, rejoiced when Wilton Gregory was promoted to Archibishop of Atlanta, wept when Jerry Kicanas had to choose bankruptcy for the Diocese of Tucson, and will rejoice when Jerry Listecki is installed as Bishop of LaCrosse. Most members of the hierarchy are good men -- and I wonder whether we will get a new pope as interesting and exciting as Karol Wojtyla.


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