Who will be the next pope
Apr 15, 2005
Cláudio Cardinal Hummes heightens speculation about the possibility of a Latin-American pope. He comes from Brazil, the world’s most populous Roman Catholic country, and has won respect as a conservative on doctrine and a progressive on social issues.
(The Manila Times, April 14, 2005 ) The 70-year-old Hummes has worked to improve relations among Brazil’s Christians, Jews and Muslims. He takes a tough line on gay rights, abortion, celibacy and the use of condoms-all major issues in not only in his country but in the entire Catholic world. Skeptics viewed him as part of a Church plan to divide and shake off politics in Brazil’s largest archdiocese.
The many sides of the Brazilian Catholic population are reflected in the many sides of Hummes’ faith. He can be both a radical defender of labor rights and a conservative stalwart of Church values on bioscience research. He feels as comfortable criticizing the world’s industrial powers as he does those who would hand out condoms. In September 2003 he headed the Vatican delegation to a UN meeting on how to treat and combat the spread of AIDS.
Hummes has created a Church-run program to help people find employment, and funds projects that help prostitutes and common delinquents escape their plight. He regularly comments on the ills of free trade while advocating the renegotiation of government debts that can strangle Third-World nations’ social spending. The door of Hummes’ church was always open to strikers and union leaders who were fleeing from riot police. His defense of the strikers made him a star of the Church’s progressive wing, and gained attention in Rome as well.
Hummes is a great-grandson of a German immigrant who came to Brazil in the 19th century and married a Brazilian woman of German descent.
He was born August 8, 1934, in Montenegro, Brazil. He has been the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sao Paulo since 1998, having previously been Archbishop of Fortaleza since 1996. He became a cardinal in the consistory of 2001. He was ordained for the Franciscans on August 3, 1958, and holds a doctorate in Philosophy from the Antonianum, Rome, and a specialization in Ecumenism from the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey in Geneva, Switzerland.
He taught Philosophy at the Franciscan seminary in Garibaldi, at the major seminary of Viamao and at the Pontifical Catholic University of Porto Alegre. He was adviser for ecumenical affairs to the National Bishops’ Conference of Brazil, Provincial of Rio Grande do Sul from 1972 to 1975 and president of the Union of Latin-American Conferences of Franciscans. On March 22, 1975, he was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Santo André and received episcopal ordination on May 25. After several months, he became Diocesan Bishop of the See on December 29. On May 29, 1996, he was promoted Archbishop of Fortaleza and was transferred to S„o Paulo on April 15, 1998.
Three years later, Claudio Hummes was proclaimed cardinal by Pope John Paul II in the consistory on February 21, 2001, at the Titular Church Saint Anthony of Padua in Via Merulana. Hummes is a curial member of Divine Worship and Sacraments, Doctrine of the Faith, Bishops Laity, Family Cor Unum, Pontifical Council of the Interreligious Dialogue, Culture Latin America, and Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops Council of Cardinals for the Study of Organizational and Economic Affairs of the Holy See.
Known to be a moderate, Hummes has made strong statements in favor of social justice. He has been quoted as saying, “Nationality isn’t the issue-the important thing is who can help the Church and the world, now and in the future.” He’s also active on the issue of indigenous peoples and made an official statement condemning the anonymous attacks on homeless indigenous people. For Hummes, violence and cruelty are unacceptable and should be vigorously repudiated. The Church has cried out many times about the need to come to the aid of those who are forced to live in the streets, without shelter. And that Jesus Christ wishes to be identified in each person, especially in the poor and handicapped.
Hummes believes in bringing the Church closer to the people, making the Church less elitist and giving it a more active role in people’s lives.