Pope Benedict XVI will focus on Europe’s moral health
Jun 07, 2005
Vatican watchers expect Benedict XVI to concentrate much of his energy on the moral state and health of Europe, where many have rejected the church’s positions on science-and-religion-relevant issues such as euthanasia.
(AP, May 26, 2005) VATICAN CITY — “I’m sure that the Church will continue a deeper dialogue with science, with new sciences like biotechnology, biogenetics,” said Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes.
One of Latin America’s leading churchmen, Hummes was among the cardinals participating in the secret conclave that elected the 78-year-old German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as pope.
Benedict XVI served more than 20 years as John Paul’s watchdog on moral teaching, upholding church doctrine such as its ban on artificial birth control. Hummes expressed confidence that Benedict, despite his reputation as a doctrinal conservative, would draw on John XXIII’s work in modernizing the church.
Hummes said Europe’s crisis of faith was “strongly growing” and “needs special attention.” But the cardinal added that he didn’t think a Vatican campaign to shore up flagging faith and moral values in Europe would come at other continents’ expense.
“History goes ahead, progress has happened at an incredible speed, humanity has changed rapidly,” the cardinal said.
The new pope named himself after Benedict XV, who led the church for fewer than eight years spanning World War I in the early 20th century.
Benedict XVI told the cardinals he was taking the name of a pontiff who “had a very short papacy, but he worked a lot,” said the Brazilian prelate.
John Paul II’s health failed in his last years, making it difficult for him to travel, lead long ceremonies and, in the last weeks, even speak to the faithful.
Benedict XVI is fond of walking, speaks in a clear, strong voice and has stood through long ceremonies he led in recent months, including John Paul II’s funeral. According to a biography by respected Vatican watcher John Allen, Ratzinger suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in 1991, but without lasting effects.
“We hope a lot in this new pope,” said Hummes, who many had hoped would become Latin America’s first pontiff.
Asked whether age was a concern in the selection of the pope, Hummes was evasive. “Health? Life? Who knows? No one knows,” said Hummes, 70. “Today, medicine is very capable of sustaining life even until — who knows — 90, 95, even in good condition.”