Last Monday His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, the leader of over a billion Roman Catholics around the world, announced at the Vatican that he would resign effective February 28.
The announcement shocked not only the Cardinals reunited with the Pope, but the entire Catholic community.
Pope Benedict emphasized that carrying out the duties of being pope requires strength of mind and body and he needs to retire in prayers due to health matters. The 85-year-old pontiff says he lacks the energy needed to continue leading the Church.
As a Catholic, I wonder if his decision is based on health matters or the pressure of all the scandals hitting the Catholic Church because of so many child abusers in the church.
The last pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415 (598 years ago).
Immediately the names of Papal contenders started to circulate in the news, and several cardinals figure to be the possible next Pope.
Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan, an Italian Cardinal, philosopher and theologian, Christoph Schoenborn, 68 years of age, Archbishop of Vienna, Austria. Many cardinals, who might not want another 25-year pontificate, consider him too young for their taste to be elected pope, as it happened with John Paul II. According to reports, Schoenborn is very conservative in doctrinal matters and has not always treated subordinates well when they have failed to do as he demanded. He reminds me of the principal of the school where I was educated, Sister Nelia Diaz. She was such an arrogant, despot, and tyrant of a woman!
Coincidentally, other prospective contenders are as young as Schoenborn.
Marc Ouelet, Archbishop of Quebec City is another contender and is also 68 years old. Ouelet might open the door to the first non-European leader of the Catholic Church in 1500 years.
Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, is only 56-years-old, still too young to the mentality of the cardinals who are hoping to be the next Pope of the Catholic Church. Tagle has been involved in many issues of concern to the Catholics of the world in the Philippines, with emphasis on maintaining opposition against atheism, abortion and contraception.
The next one would be Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson (Peter Turkson), from Ghana, who may be the first black pope of the Catholic Church, but still he is only 64 years old, too young for the approval of the rest of the cardinals.
The next would be Francis Arinze from Africa. Another one to contend for being the first black Pope. He is 81-years-old and he focus on relations between Catholicism and Islam.
Another aspiring candidate would be Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, a good prospect to the eyes of all cardinals since he is 70 years old. He is well known for his criticism of capitalism. Personally, as someone born and raised in the faith of the Roman Catholic Church, one wonders how he is going to fit in or feel if elected pope, which means living in the Vatican surrounded by gold and luxury. If he is so much against capitalism, is he going to start sharing the wealth of the Vatican with everyone else, or would he simply start enjoying the profits of capitalism?
The last prospect would be Leonardo Sandri from Argentina. He is 69 years old (as you can all read, they are all in their 60’s). Sandri was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the son of emigrants from Ala, Italy. An official of the Apostolic Nunciature. He also served in the Vatican Secretariat of State as secretary of the Substitute for General Affairs. He speaks English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. It would give us the opportunity to understand clearly, and not have to guess, what the Pope is telling the Catholic community of the world in proper language.
Before writing this column, I consulted with the nun who was principal in my upbringing, the one who taught me right and wrong since I was a child and she agreed with everything I am writing here.
As a Catholic, I pray to God that the Holy Spirit will give enough wisdom to the ones involved in choosing the right leader of our church.
Perly Viasmensky is the General Manager of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Perly Viasmensky, email her at pviasmensky@lasvegas tribune.com.