12 February 2013, 23:49

Who will be next Pope?

Who will be next Pope?

Recently, Pope Benedict XVI very unexpectedly announced that he is going to resign. Now, the world is guessing who will be the next Pope and what the destiny of the Roman Catholic Church in the rapidly changing world may now be.

Quite a few analysts are predicting that, most likely, the next Pope will be of Latin American origin, and that he will lead a very tolerant policy towards Muslims.

His Holiness Benedict XVI is now 85 years old. He is known for his tough attitude towards homosexuality, abortions and the Harry Potter book series. Besides, he has made several tough statements against Islam during his pontificate. He has always sharply condemned people who turned out to be engaged in pedophile scandals.

Taking all this into account, some analysts now suppose that the Pope’s decision to resign was not really his own. They suspect that he is probably being ousted from his post by certain forces.

If this supposition is true, the new Pope would have to be more liberal and tolerant than the elderly Benedict.

However, John Moody, a former correspondent of The Times magazine in Vatican, believes that for all his conservatism, Benedict XVI has prepared the grounds for a radical reform in the Roman Catholic Church.

As it was said above, quite a few analysts are predicting that the new Pope will be from Latin America. After all, more than 40% of the world’s Roman Catholics live in South America. However, about 50% of the voices in voting for the next Pope belong to European priests.

Among the most possible candidates, analysts name the Archbishop of the Sao Paulo diocese in Brazil Odilo Scherer, Milan’s Archbishop Angelo Scola and Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana.

One of the main criteria for choosing the new Pope will most likely be his ability to defend the interests of the Roman Catholic Church in the modern world.

“This is a very acute problem for the Catholic Church,” former Russia’s ambassador in Vatican Vyachelav Kostikov says.

“At present, Europe is full of Islamists, and their influence on the Christian world is becoming stronger with every coming day. The task of the new Pope will be to resist this onslaught of Islamists, being at the same time tolerant and friendly towards peaceful Muslims. On the other hand, for all this tolerance, the Pope should firmly stand for Christian values, because these values are traditional for both Europe and America.”

As for the new Pope’s home policy, analysts also have practically no doubts about what it most likely will be. The new Pope will have to take the mistakes of his predecessor into account. He should be capable of compromises.

Theologian Jose Manuel Vidal says:

“It is no secret that the Roman Catholic Church is now losing popularity among European young people. To bring young people back to the Church, the church leaders should now be more flexible. Too many problems now need new approaches – the problems of women, of sex freedom, of contraception, of prostitution and so on.”

The election of the new Pope will take place on March 24. Who will it be – an Italian or a Latin American?

On the one hand, the world is changing, and the Church should, to a certain extent, change with it. On the other, the role of the Church is to stand for traditional values. The new Pope, whoever he will be, should be a very wise man to always find a compromise between these two opposite trends.

Could next Pope come from Africa?

With Pope Benedict XVI due to officially step down as the head of the Catholic Church on February 28, speculations are mounting as to who may follow in his place.

Bookmakers have already started placing odds on Benedict’s successor, with some Vatican-watchers speculating it is time for an African or a South American pope. Strong candidates could emerge from regions of the southern hemisphere that boast very large Catholic populations.

Many experts are less enthusiastic however. They believe that supporters of such candidates as Ghana's Cardinal Peter Turkson or Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria will not be able to rally around their candidatures quickly enough.

With many of the recently appointed cardinals, who will have a say in the voting, coming from Italy, odds are high that the next pope will also be Italian, as is traditional, or at least European. The election of a Canadian or American pope is also likely and would still be historic.

Experts make guesses as to who may succeed Pope Benedict XVI

Now that Pope Benedict XVI has said he will step down, experts have engaged in guesswork as to who could succeed him.

They feel it is highly likely that the next Pope will prove of Latin American origin, since the region accounts for more than 40% of Catholics in the world, according to BBC.

Some of the more likely candidates are the Archbishop Odilo Scherer of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Archbishop Leonardo Sandri of Argentina.

But there’s been no clear frontrunner thus far among the candidates.

Pope Benedict XVI said Monday that he would step down on February 28th for health reasons. The next Pope is due to be elected before the end of March.

Barroso, Van Rompuy note contribution of Benedict XVI to world peace

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy on Monday expressed their understanding of Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to resign.

“President Barroso highly appreciates the work done by Pope Benedict XVI, his continued efforts to uphold ecumenical values, such as peace and human rights," – says a statement by the chairman of the EC.

European Council President Van Rompuy, for his part, said that the pontificate of Benedict XVI "was short but very difficult."

On Monday, the 85-year-old pontiff announced he could no longer lead the Catholic Church because of age and declining health. His duties will be over on February 28th .

This is the first case of a Pope’s abdication in modern history. Despite the fact there had been rumors about the Pope's illness, the statement made by Benedict XVI came as surprise even for the supreme Catholic hierarchy.

Benedict XVI quits: Vatican confused

The Vatican is confused: Pope Benedict XVI, 85, has announced his abdication and plans to quit on Feb. 28, saying he is stepping down being too weak to fulfill his duties. A voluntary papal resignation is rare, especially in recent centuries so Russian experts discuss what will happen to the Roman Catholic world.

In 2005, Pope Benedict XVI became the 265th pope and was the oldest Pontiff elected since the late 18th century.

In his resignation statement, Benedict said: “After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise” appearing at the ceremony of canonization of the martyrs of Otranto Monday.

The Cardinals were caught by surprise with this announcement, Vatican expert Alexei Bukalov told the VoR.

"As one of the cardinals put it, everyone was “very shaken by the unexpected news”. The announcement was a surprise though popes have a right to resign and some of them went to monasteries in the middle ages. But Benedict XVI was the first pope to leave voluntarily in six centuries."

Some skeptics say the true reason for Benedict’s resignation were scandals in the Holy See, like numerous charges against pedophile priests or conflictsin the Curia after Benedict XVI gave the top post of secretary of state to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. Expert in religious studies Alexei Yudin has another version of the leave.

"These scandals were very unlikely to affect the Pope personally. They threatened no catastrophic aftermaths."

Another expert, Yuri Tabal, thinks that Pope’s insufficient vigor has nothing to do with the resignation.

"No Pope resigns voluntarily due to insufficient vigor as it’s a very honored post and popes, the same as secular rulers, leave it reluctantly. There are many questions to Benedict XVI, especially taking into account his turbulent papacy. May be he saw pressure from the Cardinals who favored his predecessor John Paul II more."

The new Pontiff will be elected by a Conclave in the late March. Cardinals eligible to vote will be sequestered within Vatican City and take an oath of secrecy. Ballots are burned after each round. White smoke signals that cardinals have chosen pope.

The head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk voiced hope that Benedict’s successor will safeguard Christian values and contribute to the development of ties between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

Next pope likely to be chosen before the end of March - Vatican spokesman

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told reporters that a conclave to choose a successor could be held within 15 or 20 days of the resignation on February 28.

A new pope will probably be elected by the end of March, a Vatican spokesman said on Monday, after Pope Benedict left his aides "incredulous" with his announcement that he would resign because he was too weak to fulfill the duties of his office.

Benedict said he would step down on Feb. 28 and would not take part in the conclave to elect a new pope, Father Federico Lombardi told reporters at the Vatican.

After resigning, the former pope will move to a summer residence near Rome. After that, he will live in a former monastery within Vatican territory, Lombardi said.

'It was Pope’s personal decision' - Vatican

Pope Benedict XVI has resigned not because of "difficulties in the papacy", Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman told reporters Monday.

"In the last few months he has seen a decline in vigour, both of the body and spirit," Lombardi told reporters. "It was his personal decision."

Lombardi added that Pope plans to pray and write books after his duties are over on Feb 28.

Benedict XVI announced his resignation in a statement Monday. The name of the new Pontiff will be revealed in March.

Pope Benedict XVI says he no longer has strength to fulfill ministry due to advanced age

Pope Benedict XVI on Monday said he would resign on Feb 28 because he no longer had the strength to fulfill the duties of his office.

"For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter," he said according to a statement from the Vatican.

The Pope has explained his decision to a meeting of cardinals, saying his strength has "deteriorated" in the last few months.

"After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry," he told the meeting.

"In order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me."

French President Francois Hollande has described the Pope's decision to resign as "eminently respectable".

Meanwhile, a government spokesman in the Pope's home nation of Germany has expressed "respect" and "gratitude" for the Pope in response.

"The federal government has the greatest possible respect for the Holy Father, for his accomplishments, for his life-long work for the Catholic Church," said Steffen Seibert.

Pope Benedict XVI to step down on Feb. 28

Pope Benedict XVI has announced he is going to resign on February 28.

Pope Benedict XVI on Monday announced he will resign on February 28, a Vatican spokesman told reporters, which will make him the first pope to do so in centuries.

"The pope announced that he will leave his ministry at 8:00 pm (1900 GMT) on February 28," said the spokesman, Federico Lombardi.

Voice of Russia, Interfax, Reuters, ANSA, AFP, BBC, Latinos Post

Editor of the Catholic Information Agency in Warsaw,

Krzysztof Tomasik

, has commented on the news about the resignation of Benedict XVI for the Voice of Russia:

"It's certainly a surprise not only for Catholics, but also for the whole world. Although I can say that we could expect such a decision from Benedict XVI. Two years ago in an interview with a German journalist Benedict XVI answered in the affirmative to the question on whether he considers the possibility of resigning as Pope in case his physical strength does not allow him to perform his duties. So, on the one hand, it took us by surprise, and on the other hand, he conceded such a possibility. It should be noted that Benedict XVI has not demonstrated his aspiration for the Church authority. His decision is rightly justified, especially if he is unable to perform his duties as the Pontiff for objective physical reasons".

Yugoslavia's Ambassador to the Holy See, Ivica Mastruko, has called the situation “very unusual and complicated.”

“This has happened for the first time in several centuries,” Ms Mastruko told the Voice of Russia.”The decision was quite groundbreaking in regard to Vatican.” She said the Pope must have decided to step down because he felt he was too worn out in body and in mind to carry on. He had hinted at a possible resignation in his latest interviews, she pointed out. Ivica Mastruko said the cardinals were expected to gather on February 28 to choose Pope Benedict’s successor. “It’s impossible to tell how long the meeting will last. A new Pope may be elected at the first, second or even third council,” she said, adding: “In any case, we can expect to have a new Pope by Catholic Easter in April.”

Jesus De Las Heras, director of the religious magazine Ecclesia, has told the Voice of Russia he was stunned by the news of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation.

“I admire Pope Benedict XVI as a personality and I’m deeply grateful and appreciative to him. I believe that he was a remarkable pontific and that his decision does him credit since it was most obviously meant for the good of the Church. We are about to witness quite a unique event in the Church’s history because it’s the first voluntary retirement in many a century. It a normal course of events, quite similar to that in any other sphere of life,” Mr De Las Heras said.

Tiberio Graziani, President of the Institute of the Higher School of Geopolitics, Director of the Italian Geopolitics magazine, responding to the question whether the news of the Pope’s resignation came as a bombshell to him, as well as to many Italian observers, said, "No, I must say that to me this news was not a total bombshell. The thing is that the current papacy has all the distinctive features of a papal transition period. That is, we can talk about the papacy for a certain period. What exactly is at issue? The fact is that all of us are experiencing a time of global changes, and very rapid changes at that. So, with a high degree of probability it can be argued that the Church itself and the support groups of the future Pope decided that the time has come to bring into power a more flexible Pope who is more open to the cardinal changes occurring in the world today than the current Pontiff. And, quite probably, in the opinion of the mentioned circles, Pope Ratzinger is not the person who meets the requirements of the changing times. Pope Benedict is more in line with a stable period, and not the period of global shocks".

However, Graziani noted that we should not wait for radical changes in relations between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church, "The Vatican, with all its current problems, including the countries of the former third world, is in a very delicate phase. It is very vulnerable. And that is why, I believe, today the Vatican cannot afford to fall out with the Moscow Patriarchate. It definitely can't!"

Journalist Dimitri de Koshko said that the issue of Benedict XVI’s successor is not currently on the agenda of the Catholic Church: "According to the Archbishop of Paris, Monsieur Andre Vingt-Trois, this issue is not on the agenda yet. Someone asked if he himself considered becoming Pope. Of course, he confirmed that he would take part in the Conclave, but he said that so far, candidacies have not been discussed. Perhaps the new Pope will be younger, as Benedict XVI has touched upon the issue of age and health, although this topic arose after the pontificate of John Paul II. And during the latest appearances of Benedict XVI, the question arose if there would be another agony of the Pope, as it happened with John Paul II. Another reason for Benedict XVI’s resignation could be intrigues within the Roman Curia, but now the Pope is able to prepare his retirement and the transfer of the throne, although it is difficult to say exactly".

The journalist noted that, in his opinion, it is too early to speak about the crisis of the Catholic Church, "It's not a crisis, but rather the death of the Pope. The Pope is leaving; of course after going through a psychological struggle, and he decided, ‘I can no longer manage the affairs, I'm too old’. He could be disappointed over the intrigues within the Curia. He could decide that his time has passed, that he lacks dynamism to invent new things, new approaches (in particular, taking into account the competition with Islam). However, it does not permit us to speak about a crisis, Catholicism is just losing its ground, especially, in Western Europe".

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