The leftist papabili

Par Don Pio Pace

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Considering the profile of these progressive cardinals, as one of them is being propelled by Jesuit strategists in the election to the Seat of Peter, makes us wonder. Three names are mentioned: Tagle, Hollerith, and Roche. But the list is not exhaustive. For example, we could add the name of newly-appointed African Cardinal Richard Kuuia Baawobr, 63 years old, who is Superior General of the White Fathers.

Luis Antonio Tagle, the popular cardinal among young people

Luis Antonio Tagle, Filipino, 65 years old, doesn’t show a great originality in his way of thinking, but he is definitely one of the progressive figures. Bright student of the Jesuits, he has received his theological grades at the Washington Catholic University. He took part in the works on The History of Vatican II, published by the School of Bologna (Giuseppe Albergo, Alberto Melloni), which is typically an history “according to the hermeneutic of rupture.”

He was appointed Cardinal-archbishop of Manilla by Benedict XVI who was always pleased to elevate well-known clerics in academia, even if they were supporters of the “hermeneutic of rupture.” The Bergoglian pontificate brought him to a first row seat: in 2014 and in 2015, he was one of the co-presidents of the two assemblies of the Synod on the Family, making his “youthful” appearances he enjoys so much: he is a “good guy”, as it is said about him.

He doesn’t need to do any networking: all the obediences of the “movement” are working for him. Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga, from Hondura (from the Council of Cardinals who prepared the famous reform of the Curia), promoted him as “Defender of the marginalized” to the Presidency of Caritas Internationalis to succeed him.

Presented as a great representative of “Asian theological thinking”, he was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples on 8 December 2019. The reform of the Curia gathered into one dicastery this Congregation plus the Pontifical Council for the new Evangelization. Appointed Pro-Prefect for one of these two sections, he was put there up on a pedestal. Pro-Prefect, only because the Pope, so to signify the preeminence of this Dicastery, is himself the Prefect, in the same way that before the Council the popes, master of doctrine, were themselves Prefects of the Holy Office.

But, the Roman responsibilities and the rather strained atmosphere in the present curial world have shown Tagle’s limits and even have had a token on his health: He has been the victim of the common professional “burn out”. Smiling and enigmatic, he yet remains “in reserve”.

Jean-Claude Hollerith, the synodal cardinal

Cardinal Hollerith, 64 years old, from Luxembourg, is a bit more than a friend to the Jesuits, as he is one of their own. Ordained in 1990, he was incorporated to the Jesuit province of Japan, as he knows its language and culture (he taught at the Sophia University in Tokyo). A Ratzinguerian Archbishop of Luxembourg in 2011, he became a Bergoglian Cardinal in 2019. Sandro Magister wrote on him a very hostile article: “If the conclave wants a Second Francis, here is the name and the program.”[1] He was appointed in 2021 Relator General of the great multi-year Synod on Synodality, which is partly conceived as a way to negotiate with the “excess” of the German Synodal Way. In this way, he was given the opportunity, in a series of interviews, to detail a sort of moderate program.

He opposed the declaration of the European Parliament on abortion as a fundamental right, but he understands the concern there is for women dignity and thinks that the views of the Church on the protection of life is no longer audible and that we ought to find new ways. Which ones? He does not say. He supports, “after careful consideration”, the ordination of married men among the viri probati, which would resolve, so he believes, the vocations’ crisis. He does not believe useful that women be ordained, as long as the acknowledgement of the virtuality’s of the common priesthood of the baptized will allow them to exercise many roles of importance. In other words, he makes his own the measure of transaction which is in the spirit of the times: women don’t have to consecrate the Eucharist, but they can be entrusted with preaching.

And moreover: “we must change our way of seeing sexuality.” Indeed: “The positions of the Church on the sinful character of homosexual relations are erroneous. « I believe that the sociological-scientific foundation of this teaching is no longer correct.” This is true a fortiori  for “remarried » divorcees and even for protestants: “In Tokyo, I gave communion to whoever came to mass. I have never denied communion to anyone. I based this on the principle that if a Protestant came to receive communion, it was because that person knew what communion means for Catholics, at least as much as Catholics who participated in the mass did.” Still, he added: “However, I would not concelebrate with an Evangelical pastor. “ Phew!

Arthur Roche, the cardinal who wants to eliminate the traditional liturgy

The newly-appointed Cardinal Arthur Roche does not have the stature of a historic figure, nor does he want to be one: the Auream quisquis medocritatem diligit, of Horatius, Whoever loves the golden mediocrity…, fits his personality quite well. But, this great humanist has succeeded in positioning himself among the post-Francis possible candidates. He has become the man of one idea: the annihilation of the opponents to the liturgical reforms.

An Englishman from Yorkshire, 71 years old, he owes his appointment in 2012, by Benedict XVI, as Secretary of the Dicastery for Divine Worship, to the fact that he knew more than anyone else the dossier of the English translations of the new liturgy (he had presided over the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, ICEL, the very liberal organization of coordination between English-speaking episcopal conferences).

Under Francis new pontificate, he actively participated in setting up the steps of an offensive strategy against the Traditional liturgy: the 2019 Motu proprio which abolished the Commission Ecclesia Dei; the launching of an inquiry in 2020, by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to all the bishops of the Latin Church, on the application of the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum; the publication of Traditionis custodes, on 16 July 2021, accompanied by a letter of the Pope to the bishops making very clear the intentions of the writers: which are to eventually eliminate the former Lex orandi. For that, it now fell under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in other words, under the jurisdiction of Arthur Roche who now was Prefect of that Congregation.

Then, on 18 December 2021, through his Responsa, which are responses to questions supposedly having been brought to the Congregation on the subject of Traditionis custodes, Prefect Roche had something more to add. Only the traditional missal, and thus the celebration of the Eucharist, remained allowed and only tolerated. He forbade the use of the other books (ritual of the sacraments and Pontifical) and therefore forbade the traditional celebration of all the other sacraments: baptism, penance, confirmation, marriage, last rites and ordination. Theoretically, that is.

Or, how about Cardinal Tolentino of Mendonça, the boho cardinal?

The Catholic Herald, reporting with assurance that the pre-conclave run-up is currently between the progressive Tagle, the conservative Erdö[2], and the undefined center[3] Matteo Zuppi, yet points out that a pontifical election requires a two-thirds majority and therefore calls for a wide consensus. As a result, the English newspaper brings up an other option, a new name, in the person of the newly-appointed Cardinal José Valentino de Mendonça, who would be the “sort of figure acceptable to all factions and capable of attracting broad support among them.[4]” A native of the Portuguese island of Madeira, approaching 57 years old, a biblical scholar, he has had mostly a career in academia. He became Archivist and Librarian of the Roman Church, in 2018, though his expertise as an archivist or a paleographer was not best. After being invited, also in 2018, to preach the Lenten retreat of the Curia, he was made Cardinal the following year and, on the occasion of the all new reform of the Curia, he became Prefect of the Dicastery for Culture and Education.

He is already the author of several books on poetry, theater, essays, prayer books and, for those, has received several literary prizes. A jaded poet, favored by Lisbon’s good society and Catholic Portuguese intelligentsia, he was named Portuguese personality of the Year 2019 by the weekly newspaper Expresso.

José de Mendonça, as one should be, is Bergoglian: “We live in the middle of the city, in this space full of frontiers and invisible walls and existential blocks […] Whether Christians are remarried, wounded by the experience of marital breakdown, or the reality of new families, or homosexuals, they must find in the Church a place for listening, welcoming and merciful.[5]

He is even more than just Bergoglian, for he is very close to the Benedictine Sister Teresa Forcades, from Montserrat, a staunch feminist: “Accepting abortion as a lesser evil is not in contradiction with the Christian God”[6]. She is pro-contraception, pro-ordination of women, and travels the world to spread her ideas: “I think that on the subject of the acceptation of homosexuality or sexual minorities in general in the Church, Pope Francis did not promote any doctrinal changes, but the atmosphere in the Church has certainly changed […] I can speak for myself and for other companions who work for a full inclusion of homosexuality in the Church[7].” The poet cardinal gave a very laudatory preface to her book, Feminist theology in history[8].

Time will tell. Many times before and in many ways God has sent scourges to punish the sins of Christians. He alone knows what He may allow to come tomorrow.

Don Pio Pace

[1] If the Conclave Wants a Second Francis, Here Is the Name and the Program, Settimo Cielo – Blog – L’Espresso (repubblica.it).
[2] Peter Erdö Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapes and Primate of Hungary.
[3] The Zuppi candidacy, 67 years old, is compromised on the conservative side by the fact that he wrote a preface for the Italian edition of Fr. James Martin’s book, editor in chief of the Jesuit review America, Un ponte da costruire. Una relation nuova tra Chiesa e persone LGBT (Marcianum Press, 2018). In this type of literature it is never said very clearly that whoever asks for the sacraments, to be able to receive them, one must not be living in a state of public sin. Certainly, the preface suggests “a wise pedagogy of gradual development”. A reservation that lacks much clarity, conservatives say, to be able to hope for an irreproachable teaching on moral.
[4] Simon Caldwell, English Cardinal Arthur Roche is of course papabile and here is why, catholicherald.co.uk.
[5] Radio Renascenca, 22 December 2016.
[6] TV5, 11 March 2016.
[7] Médias-Presse-Info, 18 October 2019.
[8] La teologia feminista en la història, Fragmenta Editorial, 2007.