Zero Hour at the Vatican: A Bitter Struggle for Control of the Catholic Church

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Part 4: Looking for a Miracle

It needs a contemporary crisis manager, someone who can master the conflicts within the church with a strong hand, and can weather or, better yet, avoid scandals. He should be just as intellectually gifted as Ratzinger, as spiritually steadfast as Jesus Christ, as charismatic as Karol Wojtyla and, of course, just as young. Wojtyla was 58 when he was elected. In a nutshell, the church is seeking a mediator, a cleanup man and a tough man, and yet someone is nevertheless tender in his faith.

What it's seeking is a miracle.

The Vaticanisti agree that, given this job description, none of the six German cardinals (Paul Josef Cordes, Walter Kasper, Karl Lehmann, Reinhard Marx, Joachim Meisner, Rainer Maria Woelki) is a possibility. If the new pope is to be a European, he will most likely be an Italian.

After almost 35 years of foreign rule, first by a Pole and then by a German, an Italian pontiff would certainly be desirable. The problem is that the Italians in the curia are divided, into both territorial groups and theological factions. Their advantage, on the other hand, is that they would not be troubled by conditions in the curia. They are accustomed to confusion, intrigues, vanities and a meticulously practiced lack of interest in reform. It's the only reality they know, both in the curia and in politics.

A few days before Benedict vacates the Apostolic See on Feb. 28, a new parliament will be elected in secular Rome. The news of Benedict's resignation is already affecting the election campaign today. It has become calmer and more objective -- for one simple reason: Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who depends so greatly on media attention, is getting much less exposure now that all eyes are on the Vatican. According to rumors in the halls of parliament, Berlusconi is livid as a result while Mario Monti and the leftists are overjoyed.

The key question is how the global composition of the College of Cardinals will affect the papal election. The conclave is still just as colorful as it was before Benedict's election. It will include cardinals from 50 countries, 61 Europeans, of which six will be German and 28 Italian, 11 cardinals from the United States, five Indians, 19 Latin Americans, 11 from both Africa and Asia, and one from Australia.

Mass Masses

The Latin Americans, among others, have great expectations. They hope to see an end to the "Eurocentric Vatican," writes respected columnist Elio Gaspari. He believes that the "theologian and bureaucrat" Benedict will now be followed by a "shepherd" from the Third World. "He would combine the useful with the pleasant."

The members of the curia are worried about the latest developments in Latin America, where there is a shortage of tens of thousands of priests, and where many rural churches are abandoned. Millions are defecting to the Protestant Pentecostal churches. The Protestant pastors are true entertainers, their services are shows for tens of thousands of people, they sing and dance, and many sell CDs by the millions.

The Catholic Church hasn't found an effective response yet, though it has made some rather helpless attempts. Some Catholic priests, known as pop padres, are now holding their services in giant venues, and their masses have come to resemble pop concerts. Still, this hasn't stopped the growth of the Protestant churches.

Africa too is hoping for a change of course. In 2010, 15.5 percent, or about 180 million of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, were Africans. Thanks to demographic changes, their continent, along with Asia, is among the major growth regions in the global faith market. Tens of thousands of church institutions built by missionaries in the last 150 years, such as schools, hospitals, orphanages and AIDS wards, feel like islands of hope on a continent plagued by mass poverty. The church wields considerable political influence in countries that are unable to perform their social duties. The Catholic Church is considered the only functioning national institution in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example.

But the popularity of Pentecostal churches and Protestant sects is also on the rise. Both proclaim a simple feel-good gospel, a much more appealing message to many of the poor than the doctrines of the Catholics, Anglicans and mainstream Protestants. An African pope could be more adept at meeting this challenge; at least many Africans think so.

The churches in Africa are still filled on Sundays. White missionaries rave about the deep religiosity and strong faith of the Africans, and about their colorful liturgy and experience of spirituality. Some believe that Africa exudes the rejuvenating force that could revive the leaderless official church of the north. The church does a lot of good in Africa, and yet it is also controversial. Catholic preachers are among those in Uganda who are fomenting hatred of gays in Uganda. And on the subject of AIDS, most Catholic dignitaries in Africa adhere to the recommendations of old men from the Vatican, demonizing the use of condoms. When it comes to birth control, same-sex marriage, homosexuality or assisted suicide, they are often even more dogmatic than the Vatican.

'Obama of the Vatican'

"For God's sake, let's hope it's not an African!" Stefan Hippler, a foreign priest in South Africa, said in April 2005 before the white smoke rose from the Sistine Chapel marking the beginning of Benedict's papacy. The ultra-conservative Cardinal Francis Arinze from Nigeria, now 80, was among the favorites at the time.

This time around, though, Hippler would consider 64-year-old Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson a good choice. The Ghanaian, already dubbed the "Obama of the Vatican," is multilingual and has been a member of the Roman curia for more than three years. He is also ranked highly on gambling sites. Turkson is relatively young and open-minded on social issues. He represents positions of Liberation Theology and advocates a cautious correction of course on the issue of condoms.

A 63-year-old Brazilian with ancestors from the German state of Saarland, Odilo Pedro Scherer, is also on the list of likely possibles, as is French-Canadian Marc Ouellet, a close friend of Ratzinger who could garner the votes of North and South Americans, thereby bridging the old and new worlds.

New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, 63, a representative of the wealthy US church, is also frequently mentioned as a possible candidate.

And then there is another candidate, the "Wojtyla from the Far East, Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila in the Philippines. He is said to possess the brain of a theologian and the heart of a shepherd, as well as being more charismatic than most in the College of Cardinals. But at 55, he is also the second youngest in the College of Cardinals, practically a baby by Vatican standards.

Taking Advantage of Zero Hour

In short, the result of the conclave is as difficult to forecast as it was in 1978 when, after several rounds of voting, a largely unknown Pole stepped onto the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica. The next pope could be a black man, an African. He could be a charismatic South American or an Italian apparatchik or a reformist European. He could be someone who continues Ratzinger's course or someone who takes advantage of zero hour.

Only one thing is certain: Next Thursday, at about 5 p.m., a white Sikorsky Sea King helicopter will lift off from the landing pad in Vatican City into the skies above Rome. The pope will be on board and sitting next to him, in all likelihood, will be his private secretary, Georg Gänswein. Their destination is less than 25 kilometers (16 miles) away: Castel Gandolfo, the beloved papal summer residence, with its beautiful view of bottle-green Lake Albano.

Three hours later, at precisely 8 p.m., the pope will no longer be a pope. His chair will then be "vacante," as the sede vacante beings. There will be a simple dinner at Castel Gandolfo. The new pope will assume his office by Easter. Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, will perform his duties until then.

Joseph Ratzinger will move out of the papal palace and into his new home in the former Convent of Mater Ecclesiae, a simple, ochre-colored, 450-square-meter (4,840-square-foot) building in the Vatican gardens, with 12 rooms, as small and sparse as prayer booths. Until November, the building was occupied by 11 nuns with the Salesian Sisters, who harvested lemons and planted tomatoes, zucchini and the whitish-yellow "John Paul II" rose. Now the building is hastily being renovated, as construction debris is carried out and the library enlarged to accommodate Benedict's books -- and the two Georgs, Gänswein and Benedict's 89-year-old brother. Both men will likely visit the ex-pope's new home for a session of ora et labora.

Georg Ratzinger remembers a day, a few months ago, when they were sitting together in the room that the pope had set up for his older brother in Rome. They talked about all kinds of things. Then Benedict said that he intended to resign from office. According to his brother, he made the announcement very matter-of-factly and unemotionally, and seemed neither relieved nor sad.

"I had a few more questions relating to the implementation, but that too was discussed matter-of-factly, and the issue was settled. It didn't play a major role in our conversation. We have a great deal to discuss when we see each other, and that was only one issue," says Georg Ratzinger.

Benedict XVI, now Joseph Ratzinger once again, will remain at the Vatican, in the midst of his church but no longer at its center. He will pray and write and talk and have discussions with the two Georgs.

It's quite conceivable that he will be happy. It will be a return home, after seven years and 10 months in an office and world that were not his own.

BY FIONA EHLERS, JENS GLÜSING, BARTOLOMÄUS GRILL, FRANK HORNIG, MATTHIAS MATUSSEK, CONNY NEUMANN, ALEXANDER SMOLTCZYK and PETER WENSIERSKI

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

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hjmetro 02/18/2013
If not a McKinsey pope, why not a Goldman Sachs pope. After Monti and Draghi, it would signal the ultimate take-over of the world by the Finanzkapital:)
2. Zero Hour at the Vatican: A Bitter Struggle for Control of the Catholic Church
KhanZubair 02/19/2013
While analysing the bitter struggle fopr the control and future of Catholic Church please ponder on below mentioned claimant also. "In this age of moral and spiritual deterioration, world tension and conflicts - God, out of His infinite grace and mercy, raised a holy person, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, India, in the attributive position of Jesus. His objective: to heal the morally sick, to enliven the spiritually dead, and to create a living relationship between man and his Maker. The world had been waiting anxiously for the Promised Prophet, the Promised Messiah or the Promised Mahdi. He claimed that it was he whose coming and appearance was predicted by the prophets of great religions. He proved his claim through numerous signs. At the age of forty he received the revelations, pure words from the Living God, and in 1891 A.D. he claimed to be the Promised Messiah. Hazrat Ahmad, who lived from 1835 to 1908, showed thousands of miracles which are quite beyond the power of any human being. The beauty of his character, the acceptance of his prayers and magnificence of his signs were unique.The Bible presents a criterion of a prophet:"But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die". (Deuteronomy 18:20). The words, "that prophet shall die", can mean that a false claimant of revelation will not die a natural death, or that his movement will not flourish, since all true prophets are known to have passed away, including Moses, who mentioned this standard of judgment.Hazrat Ahmad continued to convey his divine revelations (Tazkirah) for about thirty years, died a natural death and his movement has been progressing throughout the world.Jesus presented this merit as a proof of the truth. "Which of you convinceth me of sin?" (John 8:46) The Promised Messiah, Hazrat Ahmad, also emphasized that it is inconceivable that an acknowledged truthful and holy person, who may have spent a considerable part of his life-time among his people, could turn out to be an i111poster and a liar. Very confidently, he said: "You cannot accuse me of fabricating a lie, or falsehood or deceit in my life preceding my claims, lest you may think that one who is used to lying may have done the same now. Which of you can find any fault with anything in my life? It is God's grace that from the very first, He guarded me against evil and made me lead a pious life". (Tazkiratush-Shahadatain p. 62. This indeed was a claim of great courage. No one could raise his finger to point out any evil and no one could accept his challenge.The acceptance of prayers has been recognized as another important criterion by the Bible:"We know that God heareth not sinners, but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth His Will, him He heareth". (John 9:31)The Promised Messiah. Hazrat Ahmad, wrote in one of his books:"Let us select some sick people and allot them between us and try to heal them by prayer. Then you will see that God will accept my prayers and will heal my patients, but my opponents shall fail".(Arbdeen No.3, p. 17) And he tells of his accepted prayers thus:"I have been given the blessing of abundant acceptance of prayers. There is none who can rival this. I can swear that about thirty thousand of my prayers have been heard and I can provide proof of it". (Zarurat-ul Imam p. 22) Thousands of people experienced the acceptance of, and received benefit from, his prayers. Undoubtedly this also was a great heavenly proof in his favour.Miracles have been earmarked by the Bible as denoting heavenly approval. Peter once said in his sermon:"Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs which God did by him". (Acts 2:22) Thousands of miracles concerning the health, the life, or the death of certain persons were performed by the Promised Messiah. He challenged with the offers of rewards to anyone who would reply to his arguments, and openly challenged his opponents to compete with him in prayers.For more details refer:www.alislam.org/library/books/true-christianity-leads-to-islam. Has any eminent Catholic Theologist ever bothered to pay any attention to this claimant who clearly indicated that future of Cahtolic Church or Christianity as whole is leading to merger in to real Islam as prophesied bx this claimant.
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