NCR does not exist to foster dissent. It exists
to foster discussion. If we ever get to a point where we cannot make that
distinction, God help us.
|September in Rome means the
quickening of the city’s pulse, as people stagger back from the traditional
ferragosto vacation season. And just as boys’ heads turn to romance
in the spring, fall in the Vatican beckons thoughts of potential ecclesiastical
honors and preferment the year might bring. (I confess this is perhaps
especially so among those of us in the tribe of Vaticanisti, who
find this sort of thing endlessly fascinating).
With the 80th
birthday of Venezuelan Cardinal Rosalio José Castillo Lara on Sept.
4, and the death of Brasilian Cardinal Lucas Moreira Neves at Rome’s Pius
XI Clinic on Sept. 8, we are now down to 117 cardinals eligible to elect
the next pope if a conclave were held today. On Sept. 25, that number will
be 116 when French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray turns 80. On Jan. 31, two
more cardinals will become ineligible: Maurice Michael Otunga of Kenya
and Jorge María Mejía of Argentina. On June 17, Anthony Joseph
Bevilacqua of Philadelphia crosses the 80-year mark. In the meantime, death
may claim another one or two members of the college, bringing us further
below the ceiling of 120 voting cardinals specified in John Paul’s 1996
apostolic constitution Universi Dominici Gregis.
For this reason, I and
many other Vatican-watchers expect a consistory, the formal name for the
event in which new cardinals are created, sometime next year. Traditional
dates would include Feb. 22, the feast of the Chair of Peter, and June
29, Sts. Peter and Paul. Typically the announcement of the event, and the
names of the men to get the red hat, comes more or less a month in advance.
I expect this batch of
new cardinals will be significantly smaller than the last, on Feb. 22,
2001, when 44 men entered the college. This time I think it’s reasonable
to expect perhaps 15 new cardinals, enough to bring the ranks of voting
members five or six over 120. The pope often will appoint more voting age
cardinals than the maximum technically allows, on the theory that by the
time a conclave happens some will have aged or died.
Who will they be? There
will no doubt be surprises, but by studying dioceses and curial jobs usually
held by cardinals whose current incumbent has not yet received the red
hat, as well as dioceses that seem overdue for a cardinal, it’s possible
to anticipate the bulk of the appointments. They seem likely to include:
A 14th name certain
to be on the list, but who has not yet been appointed, will be Cardinal
Diogini Tettamanzi’s successor in Genova. (Tettamanzi, you will recall,
has been transferred to Milan as the successor of Cardinal Carlo Maria
Martini). The Genova nomination is expected soon, with the two leading
candidates said to be Cesare Nosiglia, auxiliary bishop of Rome and right
hand man of Cardinal Camillo Ruini, and Carlo Caffarra, archbishop of Ferrara,
a moral theologian known as a sharp conservative on issues of sexuality
and bioethics. (Caffarra has his own web site for the truly curious: http://www.caffarra.it/.
For those who have read my book Conclave, Caffarra is a classic
border patrol figure.)
Angelo Scola, Venice, Italy
Jean-Pierre Ricard, Bordeaux, France
Mario Conti, Glasgow
Eusébio Oscar Scheid, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
George Pell, Sydney, Australia
Josip Bozanic, Zagreb, Croatia
Ennio Antonelli, Florence, Italy
Philippe Barbarin, Lyon, France
Eustaquio Pastor Cuquejo Verga, Asunción,
Henryk Muszynski, Gniezno, Poland
Julián Herranz, Spanish, President of the
Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts
Luigi De Magistris, Italian, head of the Apostolic
Francesco Marchisano, Italian, Archpriest of St.
Peter’s Basilica, Vicar General of the Vatican City-State
Some quick notes.
If Pell wants to keep
his place on the list, he will need to quickly put current accusations
of sexual abuse behind him (he is now on self-imposed suspension awaiting
the outcome of an investigation). Cuquejo Verga would be the first Paraguayan
cardinal. He is also a Redemptorist, and his appointment would give that
order three cardinals, putting them one ahead of both the Dominicans and
Benedictines with two each, but behind the Jesuits with eight, Franciscans
with six, and Salesians with five. Herranz would be the second member of
Opus Dei to become a cardinal (the first is Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani
of Lima, Peru).
If the pope has to do
some trimming, expect Muszynski to wait. Gniezno became its own metropolitan
archdiocese in 1992, so in the broad sweep of history, it could hang on
a bit longer before getting a cardinal. There is also another scenario
in which Muszynski might get bumped. Some believe a shuffle in key Vatican
posts is looming, with one potential move being the transfer of American
Cardinal James Francis Stafford from the Council of Laity to the Congregation
for Divine Worship. If that were to happen, his secretary, Stanislaw Rylko,
a Pole who is close to the papal household, could take Stafford’s old job,
which would mean becoming a cardinal. Given that the Poles already have
as many cardinals as the Brazilians, one is probably as much as they can
hope for next time around. Hence the Polish red hat would go to Rylko,
Looking at this lineup,
it seems top-heavy with Europeans. There are only two Latin Americans,
and no Africans or Asians. Hence I expect the pope may do a little geographical
balancing, adding two or three other names to make the group more representative.
Who might make this “stand-by”
Finally, the pope usually
confers a so-called “honorary” red hat or two upon loyal Vatican servants
or distinguished theologians who are already over 80, as a way of thanking
them for their careers. One strong possibility is Dominican Fr. Georges
Cottier, the longtime theologian of the papal household, who turned 80
on April 25.
Nicolás Cotungo Fanizzi, Montevideo, Uruguay
Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk, Seoul, Korea
Oswald Gomis, Colombo, Sri Lanka
John Onaiyekan, Abuja, Nigeria
Henri Teissier, Algeria
Gabriel Zubeir Wako, Khartoum, Sudan
* * *
Several readers have
asked for an update on the saga of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, the Zambian
prelate whose on-again, off-again wedding to Maria Sung, along with his
enigmatic ties to the Unification movement of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon,
was the great soap opera of the 2001 Roman summer.
The latest is that Milingo,
72, is due back in Italy in early October, ready to resume his ministry
of preaching, healing the sick and casting out demons. He will once again
set up shop at Zagarolo, a town just outside Rome, reportedly in a facility
run by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. He will be accompanied by members
of the three religious congregations he founded while still in Zambia.
Milingo also has a new
book out, Fished from the Mud (Edizioni San Paolo), in which he
recounts the story of his long, strange journey. The book takes the form
of an interview with Italian journalist Michele Zanzucchi, which took place
over three days at the end of a year of self-imposed spiritual retreat.
During this time, Milingo was at a house in Argentina run by Focolare,
one of the new movements in the Catholic church, near Mar de la Plata.
I got an advance copy
of Fished from the Mud, so far available only in Italian, in PDF
format, and read all 160 pages on my computer screen.
I have to say that the
archbishop comes across as still somewhat confused, apologizing profusely
and admitting that by getting married in a Moon ceremony he wanted to cause
a “shock” in the Vatican, but at the same time suggesting that others were
at fault for his swings of judgment.
Among other things, Milingo
hints that he was brainwashed by Moon’s organization. At one point, he
says, Moon officials persuaded him to undergo a 40-day program of “catechesis,”
in which he was not allowed to ask questions until the very end. In another
part of the book, Zanzucchi asks Milingo if he had been drugged or hypnotized,
and he responds: “I can’t say, even if I can’t rule it out with certainty.
… Maybe they manipulated me psychologically. Maybe I was the object of
a sort of brainwashing.”
Yet by Milingo’s own
account, the main thing that drew him to Moon was his own wounded pride.
He was hurt by what he felt had been years of Vatican disdain for his spiritual
gifts. Both when he was archbishop of Lusaka in Zambia, and then after
he moved to Rome as Vatican official in 1983, ecclesiastical authorities
hemmed in his healing and exorcism ministry with various restrictions and
prohibitions. He says that the Moon people, on the other hand, welcomed
him with open arms. He allowed himself to be convinced, he says, that he
could embrace Moon and get married and yet still function somehow as a
Roman Catholic archbishop.
One revelation is Milingo’s
claim that what the Moon people really wanted was for him to found a rival
Catholic church in Africa, with Milingo at the head of its hierarchy, which
in reality would function as a recruiting device for Moon. Milingo says,
in fact, that a document relating to this project mysteriously vanished
from his suitcase upon his arrival in Italy that fateful August day when
he showed up, unannounced, at Castel Gondolfo to see the pope. The fear
of an African schism was, in fact, widely mentioned last summer as one
of the factors inducing the Vatican to take such extraordinary measures
to bring Milingo back into the fold.
Here’s what Milingo now
has to say about priestly celibacy, to which he once styled his marriage
as a deliberate challenge:
“I think it is important
to maintain the tradition of the Catholic church, even if it creates not
just a few problems for many priests, a little bit in the whole world and
not just in Africa. There are numerous cultures, in fact, in which celibacy
is not even conceivable. Yet I think it has a prophetic dimension that
should not be lost. Another question is that of helping priests to maintain
their celibate state. I think that an adequate community life is the best
As for Maria Sung, Milingo
simply repeats what he said to her during the long-awaited face-to-face
session last August: “You are my sister, not my wife.”
I presume Sung will nevertheless
continue to profess her fidelity to Milingo, since she has always claimed
that his decision to leave her was made under psychological pressure. She
called him a “prisoner of the Vatican,” a charge that had an echo in certain
sectors of opinion in Italy. A few weeks ago, before news of Milingo’s
imminent return, the anti-clerical Radical Party staged a demonstration
at St. Peter’s Square demanding his emancipation. “Give him back to us!”
was the chant.
In the interview with
Zanzucchi, Milingo says that he is “not a robot,” and that he will not
automatically “fall into the arms” of Sung should he see her again. For
the record, Milingo refuses to confirm whether his marriage was ever consummated.
Sung, of course, says it was, which formed the basis of a brief pregnancy
* * *
Safiya Husseini, the
35-year-old divorcee from a poor village in northern Nigeria who was first
sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, then acquitted on technical
grounds after an international outcry, was in Rome this week. Mayor Walter
Veltroni made her an honorary citizen, and she and her lawyer took part
in a two-day symposium at Dionyus Center for Arts and Culture at the Villa
Italy, a longtime foe
of the death penalty in all its forms, was in the forefront of struggle
to save Safiya. Christian Vieri, the biggest and strongest striker on the
national soccer squad, reflected the mood when he said last spring: “I
am going to give a symbolic kickoff to show I am kicking their (Nigeria’s)
barbarism. But in reality, I want to go to Nigeria and punch the judge
who pronounced the sentence.”
I had the chance to briefly
meet Safiya and listen to her lawyer, Abdelkader Imam, who argued that
a proper application of the Shariah, or Islamic law, should make
the death penalty almost impossible.
Two brief reflections.
The Safiya case, I found
myself thinking, illustrates one of the positive features of the much-demonized
process of globalization. The international mobilization that saved her
life was possible because of the speed of modern communications, the way
the Internet allows grassroots initiatives to organize on a global scale
in real time, and the commitment to universal human rights that a world
consciousness helps to foster. This is one instance in which globalization,
in other words, made the world a better place.
Second, watching Safiya
surrounded by a gaggle of ambassadors, lawyers, and politicians, both Italian
and Nigerian, all claiming in some way to speak for her or about her or
on her behalf, I was struck anew by the ways systems run largely by men
can marginalize women even when they’re trying to help.
* * *
I have a couple of times
in this space made reference to my respect and affection for George Weigel,
the noted columnist, scholar, and papal biographer. George recently returned
the favor in his column “The Catholic Difference,” saying some nice things
about my reporting, albeit largely as a prelude to criticizing my book
Conclave: The Politics, Personalities and Process of the Next Papal Election.
I won’t comment on the
criticism, in part because I think it’s fair, thoughtful, and deserving
of reflection, in part because George said he wants to discuss matters
over pasta. Fair enough.
I do, however, want to
respond to a swipe George took at the paper I work for, the National
Catholic Reporter. He called it “an integral part of the aging culture
of dissent in U.S. Catholicism.” He added that I sometimes challenge “progressive
Catholic shibboleths,” implying, I suppose, that this distinguishes me
from the rest of the NCR fold.
At one level, I know
what George means. NCR does have an editorial line to the left of
where he stands on most issues, and it often challenges church authorities.
Weigel is certainly entitled to disagree with its particular editorial
stands. (As a footnote, I don’t know any journalist in the business who
agrees with everything his or her own paper publishes, let alone someone
else’s. There’s room to critique NCR in this regard just like anybody
Yet there is a sinister
assumption implicit in George’s comment, unless I am being overly defensive,
which is that NCR defines its mission as promoting dissent. Here
my friend is simply off the mark.
Voicing dissent is not,
and never has been, NCR’s stock in trade. Reporting is. On the news pages
of NCR, reporters try to tell the Catholic story as fairly and honestly
as possible. When necessary, they’ll challenge anyone’s sacred cow. I was
never given a theology lesson when I was in the NCR newsroom, but
I learned a great deal about being a journalist. Good reporting, asking
questions, can lead to strong editorials.
All of this arises, of
course, from a profound conviction that the Catholic church matters.
NCR does not exist
to foster dissent. It exists to foster discussion. If we ever get to a
point where we cannot make that distinction, God help us.
The e-mail address for John L. Allen Jr. is
The National Catholic Reporter Publishing
115 E. Armour Blvd.
Kansas City, MO 64111