Pope John Paul II and the Church

By Peter Hebblethwaite | Go to book overview

like Evaristo Arns of Sao Paolo, Brazil, or insufferable, like the ambitious Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, now prefect of the Council for the Family (and we know what that means).

A sleaze factor may work against Lopez Trujillo: He was formerly bishop of Medellin, Colombia, and has never quite cleared up his relations with the drug cartel. Anyway, at age 56, he is dangerously young.

The outsider is Cardinal Francis Arinze, president of the Council for Inter-religious Dialogue. He has gathered the most competent team in the curia, listens to advice, has not been overly Romanized and has great experience of Christian-Muslim dialogue in his native Nigeria. And he is black.

He has been at the Vatican since 1984, joined the College of Cardinals a year later. Born in 1932, he was the youngest metropolitan in the world when installed as archbishop of Onitsha at age 34. So he has been on something of an ecclesial fast track.

His election would capture the world's imagination. If the future of the church depends on Africa and Latin America, Arinze, who might well revive the name Benedict, could speak to that constituency.

If the future of the world depends on cooperation between the world's largest religious groups, Christians and Muslims, then Arinze would be the man for the post-communist world just as John Paul was the right man to bring the communist world down.

It is the law of all institutions that they must adapt to survive. The Vatican is particularly good at that. To believe in the church is to believe that the Holy Spirit is still at work in it despite the vagaries of its human agencies. I only hope that by naming Arinze I have not killed his chances. □


51
Vatican reporting fraught with risk

( November 6, 1992) "You can tell whether you are any good as an investigative reporter," said John Pilger, an Australian exponent of the genre, "by the number of enemies you make."

-228-

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