Signs of the Times

Cardinals List Qualities for Next Pope

Saying they needed time for serious prayer and reflection, the world’s cardinals stopped talking to the press, but only after giving them an almost endless list of qualities they said they would look for in a future pope.

In interviews up to Pope John Paul II’s funeral on April 8, the last day they gave interviews, they also listed challenges the next pope and the church face.


The personal qualities they had listed in interviews before Pope John Paul’s funeral were very general: a prayerful man with pastoral experience who knows how to listen and to communicate the truths of faith in word and example. The challenges he will be called to help the church face, the cardinals said, are much more specific: the growth of secularism in the world’s richest countries, moral relativism, the ethical challenges of new biotechnologies, relations with Islam and other major world religions, the continuing gap between the world’s rich and poor and collegiality, or the relationship between local bishops and the Vatican.

In the days before the conclave, the cardinals spent time talking to one another, because except for leading Vatican officials, very few cardinals knew even half of the 115 men who would enter the conclave. At present, I couldn’t put many names to faces, Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien of St. Andrews and Edinburgh said on April 7. So some cardinals did not think the conclave would be over quickly.

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington told reporters the church must confront crises of faith, of indifference and of apathy by proclaiming that living the Beatitudes is the path to true happiness. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor of Westminster, England, said: The question is how do you live Christianity in today’s secular culture. The Catholic Church has to find new ways to touch people.

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles ruled out the possiblity that the next pope will come from a country like France or Germany, where practically nobody goes to church and where the churches are almost museums. What we are looking at is how to have the future pope be somebody who represents a dynamic part of the worldthat is, where church life is very vibrant, as in Africa or Asia or Latin America, he said.

Cardinal Francis E. George, O.M.I., of Chicago also listed aggressive secularism as a problem the church must face. He said the next pope must be a man of deep faith who knows how to show people how Gospel truths apply to their real lives, problems and questions.

Cardinal O’Brien said, We now need to re-Christianize the world and the church, so Christ’s followers will be as he wanted them. Ukrainian Cardinal Lubomyr Husar of Lviv, like Cardinal O’Brien, cited declining moral standards as a worldwide problem that needs creative pastoral outreach and convincing ways of preaching and teaching. Cardinal Husar said, Addressing the problem of morality is not a matter of reciting rules, rules, rules, but of helping people to do God’s will.

Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia, said the inroads made by the culture of death on issues such as abortion, euthanasia and contraception highlight the need for a pope with a clear moral voice.

Pope John Paul II was accepted as a human being and accepted as a moral leader by people of different religions and by the rich as well as the poor, Indonesian Cardinal Julius Darmaatmadja, S.J., of Jakarta said. The next pope, he said, will have to have an ability to bridge religious, ethnic and social divides and to communicate with people of different cultures.

Looking beyond the confines of the church and evangelization, many cardinals said that the promotion of dialogue and tolerance with followers of Islam was a major challenge facing the church. Cardinal Pell said the next pope must continue efforts to keep a dialogue open with Muslims and find ways to support the moderate current of Islam. The late pope, he said, refused to be crusader-in-chief, and that spirit of respect must continue. Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor said dialogue is a matter of urgency for the sake of peace in our world.

Several cardinals also hinted at the need for greater dialogue, cooperation and collegiality within the Catholic Church, particularly in acknowledging that the faith life of most Catholics is based in the parish and diocese. Focusing on local parishes, Cardinal Edward M. Egan of New York said, is what is going to gain us vocations, increased numbersgain us unity.

Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Mechelen-Brussels, Belgium, said that to sketch out a profile of the next pope, one must look at Pope John Paul, a giant in church history. But he added that whoever the next pope is, he must be himself and not try to imitate the late pontiff.

That thought was echoed by several cardinals. I don’t think we have to have a copy of John Paul II to build on his work. He was unique, said Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., of Quebec. Cardinal Edward M. Egan of New York said that whoever is chosen...he would be very, very poorly advised to try to be Pope John Paul II, Paul VI or Pius XII. He added that the essential trait needed in the next pope is that he be a man of holiness; everything else is important, but that is crucial.

Someone has to fill the office, said Cardinal Husar, but each successive pope will be different from his predecessors. We should not create too much of a mystique about this office, he said. Cardinal Husar said he was looking for a prayerful person, not a saint, to be the next pope. He quoted a saint who once said a bishop should be a man who is not very healthy, not very saintly and not very wise. He had a point, the cardinal said. He must be a man. I am very much against mystifying this. The person elected must say, I am who I am, and God will do the rest.’

Pope Offered His Life for His Flock,’ Cardinal Says

Pope John Paul II offered his life for his flock and for the entire human family, the dean of the College of Cardinals told hundreds of thousands of people gathered for the pope’s funeral Mass and burial on April 8.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the dean, presided over the Mass concelebrated by 164 of the world’s 183 cardinals. Another 500 bishops and 3,000 priests, wearing red stoles, participated.

Kings, queens, presidentsincluding U.S. President George W. Bushcabinet ministers and ambassadors representing more than 140 nations sat off to one side of Pope John Paul’s casket. Opposite them sat representatives of the Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, Protestant and U.S. evangelical communities. Ten Jewish and 10 Muslim organizations sent delegations, as did Buddhists, Sikhs and Hindus.

An estimated 300,000 people filled St. Peter’s Square and the streets surrounding the Vatican. Hundreds of thousands of other pilgrims watched the funeral on big-screen televisions set up in the main squares of Rome and at a university on the outskirts of the city.

In his homily, Cardinal Ratzinger said Pope John Paul’s life was a constant response to Christ’s call to all believers, Follow me. Even when he was called to enter into the communion of Christ’s suffering as he aged and Parkinson’s disease rendered him unable to walk and later unable to speak, Pope John Paul continued to follow, the cardinal said. The pope suffered and loved in communion with Christ, and that is why the message of his suffering and his silence proved so eloquent and so fruitful, Cardinal Ratzinger said.

As television cameras swung round to the window of the papal apartments, the German cardinal said Pope John Paul had come to the window on March 27 to give his solemn Easter blessing to the church and the world, but was not able to get out the words. We can be sure that our beloved pope is standing today at the window of the Father’s house, that he sees us and blesses us, the cardinal said. Yes, bless us, he said as the crowd broke out in loud applause.

Members of the crowd, particularly the Poles, waved their national flags, but several banners with slogans were seen as well. The common message was summed up on one sign: Sainthood Now.

The Bible readings at the Mass were in Spanish, English and Latin. The prayers of the faithful at the Mass were recited in French, Swahili, Tagalog, Polish, German and Portuguese. They included prayers for the eternal repose of the pope’s soul, for the fidelity and renewal of the Catholic Church, for peace and justice in the world, for the souls of all previous popes and all deceased priests, for all the faithful departed and for those gathered at the funeral.

The funeral ended with the congregation singing, May the angels lead you into paradise; upon your arrival may the martyrs welcome you and lead you to holy Jerusalem. The 12 lay pallbearers carried the casket to the center doors of St. Peter’s Basilica, turning once again to face the crowd before proceeding into the basilica. For more than 15 minutes, the assembly applauded and young people chanted John Paul in Italian, while the bells of St. Peter’s tolled somberly and the pope’s body was carried to the crypt beneath St. Peter’s.

Pope’s Funeral Brings Together Adversaries

The funeral of Pope John Paul II on April 8 may have been the late pope’s last diplomatic coup, when more than 200 heads of state and government delegatessome of them bitter adversariescame together to pay their last respects. U.S. President George W. Bush was just yards away from President Mohammed Khatami of Iran, a country Mr. Bush has described as part of an axis of evil.

Khatami, who met with the pope in 1999, said the gathering on April 8 should be a springboard for peace. It was very important for me to pay my respects to John Paul II, Khatami told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. The presence of such high-level world figures demonstrates the world’s respect for the pope. Among the dignitaries Khatami greeted was Israel Singer, president of the World Jewish Congress, reported the Italian news agency ANSA.

Representatives of troubled neighborsIndia and Pakistan as well as Israel and the Palestinian National Authoritywere seated not far apart in the section reserved for heads of state in St. Peter’s Square.

All of Latin America was represented at the funeral, while many leaders of nations of the former Soviet Union, including Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, were present. The leader of the Polish Solidarity movement and former Polish President Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel, former president of the Czech Republic, were among the many dignitaries. Other notable guests included Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Lebanese President Emile Lahoud and kings, queens and other members of royalty from Spain, Belgium, Great Britain and Jordan.

But the presence of Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian threw Vatican-China relations into disarray and reportedly triggered mainland China’s decision to scrap plans to send a delegation representing the government-approved Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.

Noted absences included Russian President Vladimir Putin, who, according to news agencies, did not want to anger Russia’s Orthodox leaders by attending. Russia was represented by Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov.

News agencies said the record-breaking Pope John Paul set two more records on April 8: He attracted the largest number of official delegates ever to attend a papal funeral, and his was the first papal funeral attended by a sitting U.S. president.

Remembrances From Religious Leaders

Nobody has done as much to transform Catholic-Jewish relations as John Paul II. He will be forever remembered as a great hero of Catholic-Jewish reconciliation, said Rabbi David Rosen, Jerusalem-based international director of interreligious relations for the American Jewish Committee.

The Rev. Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the World Council of Churches: Pope John Paul II will be remembered as one of the most courageous spiritual leaders of our time.... He constantly affirmed as irreversible the deep involvement of the Roman Catholic Church in ecumenism.... He opened a dialogue with other religious traditions and addressed constantly issues of social justice and moral and ethical values.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople: Pope John Paul II envisioned the restoration of the unity of the Christians and he worked for its realization.... He did not hesitate before pains and sacrifices in order to bring the message of the Gospel to the entire world and to contribute to the establishment of peace. History will also recount his crucial contribution to the fall of atheistic Communism. There are not many such brave men of vision as the departed pope.

Bishop Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and president of the Lutheran World Federation: News of the death of Pope John Paul II brings me profound sadness.... In particular, Lutherans will always remember John Paul II as the pope who fostered an unprecedented growth in Lutheran/Roman Catholic relations.

Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury: Pope John Paul was a leader of manifest holiness and a faithful and prayerful friend of the Anglican Church.

Jordan’s Prince Hassan bin Talal, moderator of the World Conference of Religions for Peace said, John Paul II exercised historic leadership in advancing good will and cooperation among the world’s diverse religions. The pope’s visit to a mosque in Syria and his kissing of the Koran, Islam’s holy book, were gestures of good will deeply appreciated by Muslims, he said.

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations said: Muslims worldwide respected Pope John Paul II as an advocate for justice and human rights. His message of international peace and interfaith reconciliation is one that will reverberate for decades to come.

The Dalai Lama, exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, called the pope a great leader of humanity. He added, He always stressed the importance of spiritual values, so I really feel great loss.

The India-based Hindu spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said the pope served God and his people until his last breath.... According to the Hindu religion, the whole world is one family, and the pope is an important member of this family.... The pope has stood for the values of tolerance and ecumenism.

Pope John Paul II revolutionized Catholic-Jewish relations, said Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League.

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