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Thoughts of the papabili

A synod offers participants a chance to present their ideas to the world. For members of the College of Cardinals, especially near the end of a papacy, the way they use this opportunity offers insight into the kind of pope they might make. NCR is collecting representative lines from the papabili at the European Synod - men thought to be among the front-runners for the next papal election. The comments are taken from the English-language summaries of their synod speeches.

Francis Arinze (67, Nigerian), Prefect of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue

“The church in Europe, as elsewhere … will always proclaim Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, as the one and only Savior of all humanity. Inter-religious courtesy should in no way be interpreted to mean that Christians will keep silent on the fact that only in Jesus Christ do people find the fullness of religious life, truth and salvation, and only in the church, the ordinary means of salvation, are the means of salvation to be found in their fullness.”

Darío Castrillón Hoyos (70, Colombia), prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy

“European man today needs to see Christ and will see him in true priests who give answers to the challenges reason makes to the good news, whose deep dimension requires contemplative spaces of prayer. In the priestly identification with Christ fear disappears. … Was it easy to confront the sexual liberties of Athens, Corinth or Rome? Was it easy to introduce the sanctity of marriage in the eastern or western pagan world? … The priest must be a man of the church. I am not afraid of the structure when it has the seal of the divine plan. Our weaknesses are strengthened by the Petrian charism and the prow is oriented to the desired port.”

Godfried Danneels (66, Belgium), Cardinal of Brussels

“In Western Europe, we live surrounded in a culture that is like a garden where a number of venomous plants grow: unfettered consumerism, hedonism, the pride of non serviam. But each venomous plant contains its own antidote. …The religious wildness, a characteristic of our time by its thirst for interiority and meditation, is certainly positive. … In many countries, the church becomes a minority and impoverished of the personnel, of financial means, of power and prestige. It could be God is leading us towards a kind of new ‘Babylonian exile’ in order to teach us to become more humble and to live the doctrine of all-powerful grace. … Let us be grateful for our period: Everything is not so negative.”

Alfonso Lopez Trujillo (64, Colombia), Prefect of the Pontifical Council for the Family

“Facing the systematic demolition of the family in Europe and its alarming effects, born out of a listless anthropology that is spreading, it is necessary to have the centrality of the family be clear. … [The church faces] the perfidious challenges of common-law unions, of demographic winters, of the culture of death.”

According to the Holy See’s press briefer, Lopez Trujillo also said: “The woman today finds her nobility as wife and mother taken from her, denounced by feminist theories as servitude rather than the noble work it is. … Today there are more coffins than cradles in Europe.”

Jean-Marie Lustiger (73, France), Cardinal of Paris

“European culture has received its most noble ideals and its power to transform the conditions of human existence” from theology. Bishops should be more than watchdogs - they should encourage theological debate and centers of study.

The press briefer said Lustiger added that theologians must not separate themselves from the Christian community. “Celebration of the Eucharist, reading of scripture, confessing the faith, transmission of revelation, and the love of spiritual freedom together form the concrete conditions for the practice of theology in a secular world.”

Dionigo Tettamanzi (65, Italy), Cardinal of Genova

“Our most serious missionary problem is not the non-Christians or the un-baptized; those same Christians must be helped to believe more in the Lord Jesus. In Europe today, the priority does not lie in ‘baptizing the converted’ but in ‘converting the baptized.’… Following from this: … [is] the secondary and subordinate characteristic of any ecclesial organization, no matter how important, to thus give a more true picture of the church, less preoccupied with herself and her pastoral efficiency … willing to reform her structures and to live as seed and leaven in the world that the primacy of the gospel may shine.”

National Catholic Reporter, October 15, 1999