Catholic Church in Brazil Prepared for Changes with Election of New Pope

Article excerpt

With the largest number of Catholics in the world, Brazil is watching especially closely the process to replace Pope Benedict XVI, who is now pope emeritus but will retain the name Benedict XVI. Expectations center not so much on whether the new pope will be from Europe or from another continent but rather on the changes that the new head of the Catholic Church will carry out at a time when the church is being hit with various serious accusations, including corruption and covering up cases of pedophilia.

Brazil will have a direct presence at the conclave through the five Brazilian cardinals who will participate in the election. One of them is Raymundo Cardinal Damasceno Assis, president of the Conferencia Nacional dos Bispos do Brasil (CNBB). Several times, he emphasized that Benedict's resignation was "a prophetic gesture." Another Brazilian choosing the new pope is Joao Cardinal Braz de Aviz, considered one of the "papibles," or leading candidates, if the pope is chosen from somewhere other than Europe.

Brazil will also be remembered in the papal election because the secretary of the conclave that will choose Benedict XVI's successor will be Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri. He was the apostolic nuncio, the Vatican's ambassador, in Brazil between 2002 and 2012, during the entire time that Benedict was the supreme pontiff.

Opinions on the pope's resignation were varied, as is the Catholic Church in Brazil, which is characterized by its diversity of ideas and discourse.

"With the challenges at the beginning of this new millennium, in a world in transition, a new era, we must evaluate the specific conditions of those challenges and have the courage to make decisions. We would like it if, in all areas of the churches and the nations, in such cases, the example [of Benedict] were followed," said a communique from the Conselho Nacional do Laicato do Brasil (CNLB), "We thank God for this Christian bishop of Rome, our beloved Pope Benedict XVI, for his rich teaching, his apostolic zeal, his prophetic courage. With the prophet Jeremiah, we ask God to give us a "pastor according to his heart," to help us move forward on the path of Vatican Council II, which builds unity and communion."

Church must become more relevant

Fr. Jose Antonio Trasferetti, the former two-term president of the Sociedade Brasileira de Teologia Moral (SBTM), considers that Benedict's resignation was an act "of humility, of courage," but also a confession that "he has failed in leading the church in the face of the large problems that affect today's world and the institution."

Citing specifically the accusations of corruption, covering up pedophilia, and others, Fr. …