Vatican City

Dolan on superpower, marijuana and the council

US cardinal seen as possible future pope

Dolan on superpower, marijuana and the council

Vatican City, February 20 - ''Exciting, joyous, profound.'' This was how Benedict XVI reacted, on February 17 2011, to the speech given by Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, in front of the gathered cardinals. Dolan said the Second Vatican Council was like a ''compass for the church today'', pointed to China, India, Latin America and the West as some of the church's ''challenges'' and said that in the future the institution should be ''confident, yes; triumphalist never.'' Dolan, 63 years old, corpulent and with a contagious laugh, is considered a possible successor to the outgoing pope. However, he doesn't appear to see it that way. A few days ago, asked by a journalist if he saw this possibility, Dolan responded that whoever says this must have smoked marijuana. Dolan is considered a conservative in politics for having taken positions that contrasted with those of the Obama administration, especially in matters of ethics, but it is because of his theological solidity and pastoral zeal that Benedict included him among the conclave's electors. Sean O'Malley, the archbishop of Boston, is widely considered to be another possible successor to Benedict XVI. The 68-year-old O'Malley, a Capuchin who lives a Franciscan lifestyle, has breathed new life into the Boston diocese, which faced the pedophilia scandal with firmness and emerged strengthened. Recently, Benedict called for the canonist Robert Oliver, from Boston, to replace Charles Scicluna as promoter of justice for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a position of strategic importance in the Church's battle against abuses. Until a few years ago, it seemed unthinkable that a son of the world's economic superpower could one day become pope. Today not even Latin Americans turn up their noses at the idea. However, even if the choice falls upon someone else, the Americans will certainly bring creativity and solidity of faith to the search for a new guide for the church, which has been shaken by the unexpected resignation of Benedict XVI. The American episcopacy, along with its German counterpart, recently complained to the pope for the excessive ''Roman-ness'' and ''Italian-ness'' of the church, not only because of the crisis following the Vatileaks scandal but also in terms of the church's overall approach to its tasks and universal vocation. ''And we don't even know what Vatileaks is,'' said Luis Tagle, the archbishop of Manila, last November when he was in Rome to be dubbed cardinal during Benedict XVI's last consistory, which didn't feature a single European. On February 14 the pope, in bidding farewell to his vicars, recounted his own experience of ''Vatican II'' and pointed to the new nationalities which have ''made a strong entrance into the Council.'' ''Not just the Americans, but also Latin America'' and ''also Asia and Africa,'' said Benedict recounting his experience of 50 years ago. ''So the problems, which I have to say we Germans hadn't even seen at the beginning, grew.'' The cardinals called upon to elect the new pope will have to wear new lenses through which to interpret the dialog between the Church and the world and the North American church is destined to carry weight, Vatican watchers say.

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