Latest Stories

Brazil hopes for younger, more open-minded pope

RIO DE JANEIRO – The Catholic Church needs a younger, more modern and open-minded pope who can halt the exodus of the faithful in Latin America, home to half of the world’s Catholics, Brazilians say.

Brazil has the world’s largest Roman Catholic population — at 125 million faithful — but the country’s leftist tilt has left many feeling alienated from a church seen as overly wealthy and detached from modern life.

Catholics’ numerical dominance in Brazil has been steadily eroding as Evangelicals have made major inroads, jumping from 26.2 million in 2000 to 42.3 million in 2010, out of a population of nearly 200 million.

Brazil’s Catholics now fear that their country, and Latin America in general, will face the same dearth of clergy as Europe, where seminaries training future priests are half empty.

They wonder who will be tasked with leading the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics, many of whom were appalled by recent pedophile and corruption scandals and shocked by the surprise resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.

“It does not matter whether the next pope is Brazilian (or) Filipino, although it will be difficult to get a non-European,” said Franciscan friar and writer Frei Betto, a friend of Cuba’s famed communist revolutionary Fidel Castro and Brazil’s leftist former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

“I want a man open to dialogue with the modern world, to inter-religious dialogue,” he said.

“The Catholic Church maintains medieval practices. It did not enter modernity and is not comfortable with the digital world,” he added.

Betto says the next pope must lift the taboos on issues such as priestly celibacy, the ordination of female priests, gay marriage, the use of condoms and abortion in specific cases.

French Dominican friar Henri Burin des Roziers, who lives in a remote part of the Brazilian Amazon and is facing death threats over his defense of landless peasants, meanwhile called for “an end to the great theater of luxury, of the scandals linked to the (pope’s) external wealth.”

He wants the new pontiff “to stop living like a prince, to opt for a simple life.”

“The important thing is that he must be a man of dialogue with the outside world and within the church,” he told AFP.

“We hope that the new pope will create a more open atmosphere, that Christians will be able to have a dialogue with modern culture without the many suspicions and criticisms facing the current pope,” said Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff.

Boff is a leading figure in the progressive Liberation Theology. He quit the priesthood in 1992, eight years after being effectively gagged by none other than Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later became pope Benedict XVI.

Paulo Fernando Carneiro de Andrade, a theology professor at the Rio de Janeiro Catholic University, wants a pope who promotes “decentralization and greater openness to cultural pluralism — less eurocentric.”

Sao Paulo archbishop Odilo Scherer, one of the world’s 118 cardinals who could succeed Benedict XVI, said the next pope’s geographical origin is not as important as his approach to “the challenge of postmodernity.”

Raymundo Damasceno Assis, who is president of the Brazilian Bishops Conference and also touted as a possible next pope, told AFP “the challenge for the future pontiff will be to make the gospel relevant for today’s world.”

And Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the emeritus archbishop of Sao Paulo, stressed the need for a pope younger than the 85-year-old Benedict XVI. Around 65 “would be a good age,” he said.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Brazil , News , Pope , Vatican religion , world

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Opinions split on Napoles turning state witness
  3. Delfin Lee: Blame Pag-Ibig, not me
  4. Plunder complaint filed vs PNP chief, firearms office head over license delivery deal
  5. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  6. San Juan cops fail to arrest Cedric Lee
  7. More ‘Yolanda’ bodies found
  8. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  9. Lawyer: Napoles ‘will tell all’
  10. Boy ‘sexually assaulted’ at Indonesia international school
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  3. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  4. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  5. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  8. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  9. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  9. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
  10. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima


  • 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  • Napoles surgery in Makati hospital successful
  • Save the queen? Aide takes fall for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  • Napoles turnaround alarms whistle-blowers
  • Palace prepared to charge its allies
  • Sports

  • Mixers trim Aces; Painters repulse Bolts
  • Donaire junks Garcia as coach, taps father
  • ’Bye Ginebra: No heavy heart this time
  • UAAP board tackles new rules
  • Baguio climb to decide Le Tour de Filipinas
  • Lifestyle

  • Entering the monkhood a rite of passage
  • Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  • Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  • Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  • Life lessons I want to teach my son
  • Entertainment

  • Return of ‘Ibong Adarna’
  • Practical Phytos plans his future
  • In love … with acting
  • From prison to the peak of success
  • ‘Asedillo’ location thrives
  • Business

  • Philippine Airlines to stop shipment of shark fins
  • PH banks not ready for Asean integration
  • Stocks down on profit-taking
  • Banks allowed to use ‘cloud’
  • SMIC to issue P15-B bonds
  • Technology

  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • China and rivals sign naval pact to ease maritime tensions
  • What Went Before: Manila bus hostage crisis
  • Obama arrives in Tokyo, first stop of 4-nation tour
  • Believe it or not: Filipinos love US more than Yanks
  • PH, HK end bitter row; sanctions lifted
  • Marketplace