Cl Cardinal Hummes, O.F.M. Cl Cardinal Hummes, O.F.M.
Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy
Cardinal Priest of Sant'Antonio da Padova in Via Merulana
Aug 08, 1934
Feb 21, 2001
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English Top Cardinal Plays Down Da Vinci Code Debate
Apr 08, 2005
A top Roman Catholic cardinal has played down a Vatican drive to shun "The Da Vinci Code" and argued the controversy would only further fuel sales of the bestselling novel.

SAO PAULO, Brazil (Reuters, Mar 21, 2005) - "It isn't a big problem," Cardinal Claudio Hummes, a leading candidate to succeed Pope John Paul, told Folha de S.Paulo newspaper on Monday. "We know it's a big farce and that it did well commercially. The more people talk about the book, the happier the author will be."

The international blockbuster by U.S. author Dan Brown was condemned last week by a high-ranking member of the Catholic church who urged Catholic bookstores to take the thriller off their shelves and Catholics to spurn the novel.

The murder mystery follows a Harvard professor as he uncovers a secret about the life of Christ and the clandestine society that has tried to protect it over the ages.

The story alleges that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had children, an assertion in sharp conflict with Catholic teachings that Christ never married, was crucified and rose from the dead.

In an interview with Reuters last week, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, speaking as one of the Church's top theologians, called the novel a "sack full of lies against the Church."

Hummes, who as the archbishop of Sao Paulo oversees the largest Catholic congregation in the most populous Catholic country of the world, tried to distance Bertone's criticisms from what might be viewed as an attempt to dictate what Catholics can and cannot read.

"Cardinal Bertone thought it was correct, with relation to his archdiocese, to warn against the book. It's a right he has. But the index of prohibited books does not exist anymore," Hummes said.

"The Church doesn't censor. It tries to guide its faithful through catechism."

Up until 1966, the Vatican had an index of prohibited books it started in 1559 as part of the Roman Inquisition to censor what Catholics read.

Hummes has been mentioned by Vatican observers as a possible replacement to Pope John Paul, whose health is failing. In the interview with Folha, Hummes declined to comment on whether he would like to be Pope.
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