November 8, 2006

Why Cardinal Hummes?

Last week, Pope Benedict named Cláudio Cardinal Hummes as prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.  The appointment surprised many because of Cardinal Hummes' past support of the discredited liberation theology.

The buzz in Rome is that Pope Benedict wanted another South American to replace Cardinal Castrillon, but that his first choice -- Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio of Buenos Aires -- twice politely rejected  his offers to head the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Congregation for the Clergy.

Vatican officials kept looking, and it was only natural to look toward Brazil, the largest Catholic nation on the planet.  Since the death of Lucas Cardinal Moreira Neves (Congregation for Bishops) in 2000, Brazil had no significant representation in the Roman Curia.  The highest-ranking "Brazilian" in the Vatican was Archbishop Karl Joseph Rommer, a former auxiliary bishop in Rio de Janeiro -- but he was born in Switzerland.

According to the Catholic News Agency, among the most surprised by the appointment was Cardinal Hummes himself, who said:  "The first thing I felt I should do was to begin to pray, to ask God to illuminate me, because for me the voice of the Pope is the voice of God and, therefore, it was necessary to say yes."