On Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul was one of the greatest men of modern times – though
whether history will judge him as a successful world leader is still
open to doubt.
A Biography by John Christensen
His early years
The priesthood years
The papal years: charisma and restoration
The Succession Process: Picking the
His early years
Before he became the Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Christ, Successor of St.
Peter, Prince of Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church,
Patriarch of the West, Primate of Italy, Sovereign of Vatican City and
the only pope featured in a comic book -- Marvel doing the honour in
1983 -- Pope John Paul II was Karol
Jozef Wojtyla. Friends in Wadowice,
a town of 8,000 Catholics and 2,000 Jews 35 miles southwest of Krakow,
called Wojtyla "Lolek." Lolek was born in 1920, the second son of Karol
Wojtyla (voy TIH wah) Sr., a
retired army officer and tailor, and
Emilia Kaczorowska Wojtyla, a schoolteacher of Lithuanian
descent. The Wojtylas were strict Catholics, but did not share
the anti-Semitic views of many Poles. One of Lolek's playmates was
Jerzy Kluger, a Jew who many years later would play a key role as a
go-between for John Paul II and Israeli officials when the Vatican
extended long-overdue diplomatic recognition to Israel. Kluger
told The New York Times that he spent many afternoons sitting in the
kitchen next to the Wojtylas' coal stove listening to Lolek's father
tell stories about Greece, Rome and Poland. Lolek, in turn, went to the
Klugers' 10-room apartment overlooking the town square and listened to
music performed by a string quartet composed of two Jews and two
Catholics. "The people in the Vatican do not know Jews, and
previous popes did not know Jews," Kluger told the Times. "But this
pope is a friend of the Jewish people because he knows Jewish
people." Indeed, Wojtyla became the first pope to visit a
synagogue and the first to visit the memorial at Auschwitz to victims
of the Holocaust. In ending the Catholic-Jewish estrangement, he called
Jews "our elder brothers."
John Paul II was possibly the most athletic Pope in history. In his
youth, he played soccer as a goal-keeper, took daring swims in the
flooded Skawa River, and enjoyed skiing, hiking, mountain climbing and
kayaking. As a schoolboy, Wojtyla was both an excellent student and an
athlete who skied, hiked, kayaked and swam in the Skawa River. But
death hovered over the family, making itself felt first when an infant
sister died before Lolek was born. It struck again in 1929 when his
mother died of heart and kidney problems, just a month before Lolek's
9th birthday. And when he was 12, Lolek's 26-year-old brother Edmund, a
physician in the town of Bielsko, died of scarlet fever. Lolek,
himself, had two near-misses with mortality in his youth. He was hit
once by a streetcar and again by a truck in 1944 while a college
student. The injuries left the otherwise robust pope -- 5-foot-10 1/2
inches, 175 pounds in his prime -- with a slight stoop to his shoulders
that is particularly noticeable when he is tired. "The pope's youth
wasn't happy," Father Joseph Vandrisse, a former French missionary and
now a journalist, told TIME magazine. "He has meditated a lot on the
meaning of suffering..." Even as an adult he has been beset by physical
difficulties, including a dislocated shoulder, a broken thigh that led
to femur-replacement surgery, the removal of a precancerous tumour from
his colon and an attempt on his life by a gunman whose two bullets
wounded the pope in the abdomen, right arm and left hand.
Lolek and his father lived in a Spartan, one-room apartment behind the
church, and the father devoted himself to raising his son. He sewed
Lolek's clothes and had the boy study in a chilly room to toughen him
and develop his concentration. "He tried to develop the same discipline
in his son that he instilled in his soldiers," one of Lolek's childhood
friends told People magazine. But the father didn't forget about play.
A friend remembers entering the Wojtylas' apartment and finding father
and son playing soccer with a ball made of rags. Wojtyla's passions in
those early years were poetry, religion and the theatre. After
graduating from secondary school in 1938, he and his father moved to
Krakow where he enrolled at Jagiellonian University to study literature
and philosophy. He also joined an experimental theatre group and
participated in poetry readings and literary discussion groups. Friends
say he was an intense and gifted actor, and a fine singer.
After the Germans invaded Poland, he escaped deportation and
imprisonment in late 1940 by taking a job as a stone cutter in a
quarry. A few months later, in February of 1941, Wojtyla's 61-year-old
father died, leaving his dream of seeing his son commit to the
priesthood unfulfilled. The pope has said that his father once told
him, "I will not live long and would like to be certain before I die
that you will commit yourself to God's service." It was another
18 months, however, before Wojtyla began studying at an underground
seminary in Krakow and registered for theology courses at the
university. He continued his studies, acted and worked in a chemical
plant until August of 1944. But when the Germans began rounding up
Polish men, Wojtyla took refuge in the archbishop of Krakow's
residence, and remained there until the end of the war. He was ordained
in 1946 in Krakow, and spent much of the next few years studying -- he
earned two masters degrees and a doctorate -- before taking up priestly
duties as an assistant pastor in Krakow in 1949.
The priesthood years
In the early years of his priesthood, Wojtyla served as a chaplain to
university students at St. Florian's Church in Krakow. The church was
conveniently located next to Jagiellonian University, where he was
working on a second doctorate in philosophy. When the university's
theology department was abolished in 1954, presumably under pressure
from the communist government, the entire faculty reconstituted itself
at the Seminary of Krakow and Wojtyla continued his studies there. He
was also hired that same year by the Catholic University of Lublin --
the only Catholic university in the communist world -- as a non-tenured
professor. The arrangement turned Wojtyla into a commuter, shuttling
between Lublin and Krakow on the overnight train to teach and counsel
in one city and study in the other. He also founded and ran a service
that dealt with marital problems, from family planning and illegitimacy
to alcoholism and physical abuse. Time magazine called it "perhaps the
most successful marriage institute in Christianity."
In 1956, Wojtyla was appointed to the Chair of Ethics at Catholic
University and his ascent through the church hierarchy got a boost in
1958 when he was named the auxiliary bishop of Krakow. When the Vatican
Council II began the deliberations in 1962 that would revolutionize the
church, Wojtyla was one of its intellectual leaders and took special
interest in religious freedom. The same year, he was named the acting
archbishop of Krakow when the incumbent died.
Before his ordination as a priest, he was a member of an
experimental theatre group, a stonecutter, a published poet, and a
chemical company boiler-tender. Wojtyla is, by all accounts, a genial
and charming companion, a good listener and not above what Time calls
"good-natured kidding." "He's a very brilliant man, and very
intelligent and very holy," says Margaret Steinfels, editor of
Commonweal magazine in New York. "I haven't met him, yet I'm told that
he is extremely amiable and affable, and wonderful to talk and dine
He also was shrewd enough not to let his distaste for communism show.
His appointment as cardinal in 1967 by Pope Paul VI was welcomed by the
government. Wojtyla was considered "tough but flexible" and a moderate
reformer, but an improvement on old-school hard-liners who were
unalterably opposed to communism and communists. Wojtyla bided his
time, engaging in a strategy that honoured Catholic beliefs and
traditions while accommodating the communist government. The
Catholic church in Poland served as an important outlet for the
expression of national feeling. In his book "John Paul II," George
Blazynski writes that Wojtyla encouraged this expression in a form that
did not "provoke a brutal reaction by forces within and perhaps without
the country." But he also proved to be what Current Biography called "a
resilient enemy of Communism and champion of human rights, a powerful
preacher and sophisticated intellectual able to defeat Marxists in
their own line of dialogue." According to George Weigel, who has
written extensively about the pope, Wojtyla demanded permits to build
churches, defended youth groups and ordained priests to work
underground in Czechoslovakia. Wojtyla was once asked if he feared
retribution from government officials. "I'm not afraid of them," he
replied. "They are afraid of me." "It is the task of the Church, of the
Holy See, of all pastors, to fight on the side of man, often against
man himself."( From a 1976 sermon given while still a cardinal and the
Archbishop of Krakow)
In spite of all his activities, Wojtyla didn't slight his scholarly
duties. He wrote a treatise in 1960 called "Love and Responsibility"
that laid out the foundation for what Weigel calls "a modern Catholic
sexual ethic." His second doctoral thesis -- "Evaluation of the
possibility of Constructing a Christian Ethic based on the System of
Max Scheler" -- was published that same year. In 1969, the Polish
Theological Society published Wojtyla's "The Acting Person," a dense
philosophical tract on phenomenology that Wojtyla discussed during a
U.S. visit in 1978. "All sorts of people turned up," recalls Jude
Dougherty, chairman of the philosophy department at Catholic University
in Washington, D.C. where the talk was held. "It was extremely
well-received by people who were familiar with the subject. And those
who weren't were awed to hear a cardinal who was very learned and very
scholarly." Weigel wrote that in 1976, when Wojtyla was invited to lead
spiritual exercises before Pope Paul VI at a Lenten retreat, his first
three references were to the Bible, St. Augustine and German
philosopher Martin Heidegger. In 1977, Wojtyla gave a talk at a
university in Milan called "The Problem of Creating Culture through
An emotional man
Although he had established himself as a formidable intellectual
presence -- as well as an able administrator and fund-raiser -- few
suspected that the Sacred College of Cardinals would choose Wojtyla as
the next pope after the death of John Paul I in September of 1978. But
when the cardinals were unable to agree on a candidate after seven
rounds of balloting, Wojtyla was chosen on the eighth round late in the
afternoon of October 16. He reportedly formally accepted his election
before the cardinals with tears in his eyes. (Associates say the pope
is an emotional man, and is often moved to tears by children.) Wojtyla
chose the same name as his predecessor -- whose reign lasted just 34
days before he died of a heart attack -- and added another Roman
numeral in becoming the first Slavic pope. He was also the first
non-Italian pope in 455 years (the last was Adrian VI in 1523) and, at
58, the youngest pope in 132 years. "I was afraid to receive this
nomination," he told the crowd from a balcony overlooking St. Peter's
Square, "but I did it in the spirit of obedience to Our Lord and in the
total confidence in His mother, the most holy Madonna." Weigel says
that when Wojtyla's election was announced, Yuri Andropov, leader of
the Soviet Union's KGB intelligence agency, warned the Politburo that
there could be trouble ahead. He was right.
years: charisma and restoration
Less than eight months after his 1978 inauguration, Karol Wojtyla
returned to Poland as Pope John Paul II for nine cathartic days. Huge,
adoring crowds met him wherever he went and were an acute source of
embarrassment to the communist government. Officially, the country was
atheistic; it was also suffering from food shortages. The pope added to
the authorities' discomfort by reminding his fellow Poles of their
human rights. "His secretary told me that was the great moment,"
says Robert Moynihan, editor and publisher of the magazine Inside the
Vatican. "There was a crowd of one million people, and he told them
'You are men. You have dignity. Don't crawl on your bellies.' It was
the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union."
In the winter of 1999, the pope flew to Mexico and the United States
and celebrated Mass for millions of people. His visits to Boston, New
York, Philadelphia, Des Moines, Chicago and Washington took on the
trappings of major holidays. The cities threw open their arms in a
welcome that Current Biography said was of "staggering, unprecedented
magnitude." "...private citizens, Catholic and non-Catholic alike,
flocked by the millions to glimpse the Pope," it reported. "It was only
a few short years ago that such mass forgetfulness of sectarian
difference would have been unthinkable (and, politically, suicidal) in
the United States."
In January 2001, one of his doctors publicly acknowledged that the
pontiff was suffering from Parkinson's disease. For years the pope had
shown symptoms of Parkinson's -- shaking and a general unsteadiness.
John Paul displayed a charisma during more than 170 visits to over 115
countries over the past 20 years. And as Time noted in naming him Man
of the Year in 1994, he generates an electricity "unmatched by anyone
else on earth." In his book "The Making of Popes 1978," Andrew M.
Greeley offers a close-up of the pope working a crowd: "His moves, his
presence, his smile, his friendliness, his gestures ...have pleased
everyone... He is great with crowds -- shaking hands, smiling, talking,
kissing babies." The Los Angeles Times reported that Poles waited
for hours to see the Pope when he returned in 1997. At his appearance,
the crowds grew silent, "some falling to their knees and weeping as
John Paul parts the crowd on a path to the altar." "Such an incredible
moment," Krzysztof Gonet, mayor of Nowej Soli, told the Times. "You can
feel the vibrations in the air." Not only is he the most travelled pope
in history -- he speaks eight languages, learning Spanish after he
became the pope -- he also has been quick to use the media and
technology to his advantage.
In the early years of his papacy, he steered the Vatican into satellite
transmissions and producing video cassettes. While other popes stayed
close to Rome, remote and seemingly unapproachable, John Paul's
wide-ranging appearances -- enhanced by an actor's sense of theatre --
became worldwide news events. When the pope visited Cuba in January
1998, hard-line Cuban leader Fidel Castro set aside his drab olive
fatigues and put on a business suit to welcome him. Castro also
attended a number of functions for the pope and escorted the frail Holy
Father with almost touching deference.
John Paul II was by papal standards a comparatively young man when he
was elected in 1978. He was only 58, making him the youngest Pope in
132 years. Not content with tending merely to church affairs, John Paul
has made the world's business his business -- especially in regard to
human rights. "His great hope is to awaken the entire world to
the dignity and responsibility of defending human rights," Cardinal
Roger Etchegaray told the Washington Post. His criticism of such
dictators as Alfred Stroessner in Paraguay, Augusto Pinochet in Chile
and Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines encouraged opposition movements
that eventually brought down those governments. His support for the
Solidarity movement in Poland -- priests concealed messages from John
Paul to imprisoned union leaders in their robes -- was a key to the
downfall of communism in Poland.
When a Turk named Mehmet Ali Agca shot the pope twice in an
assassination attempt in 1981, Agca first told the authorities that he
was acting for the Bulgarian intelligence service. The Bulgarians were
known to do the bidding of the KGB, but Agca later recanted that part
of his confession. It didn't matter to the pope who was responsible,
and later he visited Agca in his cell and forgave him. The astonished
Agca said, "How is it that I could not kill you?"
The Pope: Philosopher
But the pope hasn't played favourites, and the West has come in for its
share of criticism, too. During that first triumphal visit to the
United States, he warned his hosts about the dangers of materialism,
selfishness and secularism, and suggested lowering the standard of
living and sharing the wealth with the Third World. The message didn't
play well, and still doesn't. But that hasn't stopped the pope from
insisting that materialism -- he regards capitalism and communism as
flip sides of the same coin -- is not the answer. "This world," he
said, "is not capable of making man happy." Prayer and faith can make
man happy, he believed, and he led by example. Indeed, he was so often
in prayer that he was said to make his decisions "on his knees." He was
found kneeling on the ground in the middle of winter before a statue,
and deep in prayer with his head resting on an altar. Even when not
interacting with others, he was seen moving his lips, apparently in
Pope John Paul's papacy was not without conflict. Buddhist priests
boycotted a trip to Sri Lanka after he described their religion as a
largely "atheistic system." After the visit the Pope tried to make
amends, by declaring he had "profound respect and sincere esteem" for
Buddhism, but the tensions still persisted.
The Catholic church John Paul II inherited in 1978 was in shambles.
Reforms begun by the Vatican Council II shook the church to its
foundation, and the tumult within the church could be compared to the
turmoil in the outer world during the 1960s' era of peace, love and
protests over the war in Vietnam. "The church went through a tremendous
crisis," says Moynihan. "It knocked the church to its knees. It lost
one-third of its priests and a tremendous number of nuns."
John Paul II embarked on nothing less than a restoration of the church,
one grounded in its conservative tradition. His rejection of
contraception and abortion has been absolute and unbending, and his
almost dictatorial manner has not always played well. People magazine
observed that the pope -- who has had no qualms about silencing those
within the church family who disagreed with him -- is "more given to
self-discipline than self-doubt." "It's a mistake to apply American
democratic procedures to the faith and truth," the pope has said. "You
cannot take a vote on the truth."
Hans Kung, a liberal Catholic theologian who has crossed swords with
the pope, told Time, "This Pope is a disaster for our church. There's
charm there, but he's closed-minded."
The Economist magazine reported that another troublesome theologian,
Bernard Haring, compared the questioning he underwent at the Vatican
"to the treatment he once received under Hitler."
Margaret Steinfels, the editor of the Catholic magazine Commonweal and
a more moderate critic of the pope, accused him of polarizing issues.
In his opposition to contraception, abortion and euthanasia, for
example, he has accused the industrialized world of fostering "a
culture of death." "I don't deny that there are many problems in the
U.S. and the West," she said, "but I don't think that calling it a
'culture of death' and the church the 'church of life' is a useful way
of dealing with things. I disagree with his metaphors."
The pope also has confounded Steinfels and many others with his
insistence that church doctrine prohibits the ordination of women. In
affirming his position in a letter to bishops in 1994, he wrote in
uncompromising fashion, "this judgment is to be definitively held by
all the church's faithful."
"A nation that kills its own children has no future." Was the pope's
reaction to the liberalization of the abortion law in Poland in 1996.
The pope has often explained himself with dense, closely reasoned and
deeply philosophical encyclicals. His encyclicals, letters and other
writings fill more than 150 volumes. "It's first-rate prose, and
work that will last," says Jude Dougherty of Catholic University in
Washington, D.C. "Trouble is, they're not all that easy to read. His
book is a very good document, too." In 1994, the pope wrote
answers to written questions posed to him by Italian journalist
Vittorio Messori. Messori then edited them into "Crossing the Threshold
of Hope," a book that became a best-seller in many countries.
Many observers say John Paul's record is mixed. Although the church has
expanded in Africa and Latin America -- the latter accounts for about
half of the estimated one billion Catholics -- it has lost followers in
the industrialized world, including Poland. His inflexibility on issues
with international ramifications -- birth control in Africa, for
example -- has drawn strong criticism. "The church's refusal of
condoms even for saving lives is absolutely incomprehensible," French
journalist Henri Tincq told Time. "It disqualifies the church from
having any role in the whole debate over AIDS." Nevertheless, said
Father Richard John Neuhaus, editor of the Catholic magazine First
Things, "This pope has the church in a stronger position than it's been
in since the Protestant division in the 16th century. When has the
Catholic church had as much respect as it does today?"
It is doubtful there has ever been a pope who has so successfully
translated his strength, determination and faith into such widespread
respect and goodwill. In a world of shifting trends and leaders of
questionable virtue, John Paul II has been a towering figure at the
moral centre of modern life. "This is not a pope who looks at the
public opinion polls," says Father Thomas Reese, editor of America
magazine and author of the book "Inside the Vatican." "He says what he
thinks is right and wrong from conviction. And that's why people admire
him. He's a man of integrity and prayer, even if they don't agree with
The Succession Process: Picking the Pope
Tellers, tallies and antipopes
There have been a number of methods for choosing a pope over the
centuries since St. Linus, the second pope, replaced the apostle Peter
-- St. Peter to Catholics -- in the year 67.
The first popes were chosen by local clergymen who lived near Rome, but
kings, emperors and other interested bystanders have done what they
could to influence the process as well. And there were times when those
who were displeased with the outcome appointed their own man, who was
known as the antipope. But in 1059 Pope Nicholas II decreed that
henceforth all papal electors must be cardinals, and in 1179 Pope
Alexander III ruled that all cardinals would have an equal vote in the
election. In 1274, Pope Gregory X decided that the cardinals must meet
within 10 days of a pope's death, and that they should be kept in
strict seclusion until a pope was chosen. By the late 1500s, most of
the electoral procedures now used were in place.
The pope can be elected by one of three methods. A unanimous voice vote
is permissible, as is the unanimous selection by the cardinals of a 9-
to 15-member committee, which then must agree on a pope. The most
common method, however, is election by ballot, which works as follows:
When the pope dies, the dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals
notifies the cardinals and calls a meeting -- always held in the
morning -- that must begin no more than 20 days after the pope's death.
The cardinals draw lots to select three members to collect ballots from
the infirm, three "tellers" to count the votes and three others to
review the results.
Blank ballots are then prepared and distributed.
After writing the name of one man on his ballot, each of the
approximately 120 active cardinals -- those under 80 years of age --
walks to an altar and pledges to perform his duty with integrity. He
then places his ballot in a container which is covered by a plate.
After all votes are cast, the tellers tally the ballots and the
result is read to the cardinals.
If there is no winner, another vote is taken. If there is still no
winner, two more votes are scheduled for the afternoon.
After the votes are counted each time, the ballots are burned. If there
has been no winner, a chemical is mixed with the ballots to produce
black smoke when they are burned. Sight of the black smoke emerging
from the roof of the Vatican Palace tells those waiting in St. Peter's
Square that a pope has not yet been selected. When a winner has been
selected, the ballots are burned alone, and the white smoke indicates
there is a new pope.
Traditionally, the winner had to garner two-thirds of the vote plus
one, but John Paul II changed that in 1996. He ruled that if, after 12
or 13 days there is still no winner, the conclave could invoke a rule
-- by majority vote -- that would permit the selection of the pope by
an absolute majority.
Once there is a winner, the pope-elect is asked if he accepts the
decision. (Pope John Paul II reportedly accepted his election with
tears in his eyes.) If he does, the dean asks what name he chooses and
announces it to the cardinals, who then come forward to offer
The oldest cardinal then steps out on a balcony overlooking St.
Peter's Square and says to the crowd, "Habemus papam" -- "We have a
pope." He then introduces the pope, who steps out on the balcony to
bless Rome and the world.
Many popes have been formally installed with a coronation, but Pope
John Paul II refused a coronation and was installed as the pope during
a Mass in St. Peter's Square.
Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn
An Austrian and one of the newest cardinals, Schoenborn's relative
youth -- he is in his mid-50s -- makes him a long-shot. Most reports
indicate that the cardinals don't fancy another pope whose term might
rival that of John Paul II's in length (more than 20 years).
Nevertheless, Jude Dougherty, dean of philosophy at Catholic University
in Washington, says Schoenborn is "very intelligent, very capable, very
charming." He also is of noble bloodlines and the third member of his
family to make his mark in the church hierarchy.
Cardinal Bernardin Gantin
One of the pope's closest friends as well as the dean of the College of
Cardinals, Gantin is also the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops,
which chooses all bishops. He is a native of Benin and, being black,
may suffer from the sentiment to pick a European candidate.
Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger
Lustiger, the archbishop of Paris, is considered more a novelty than a
realistic candidate. Lustiger was born a Jew, but when he was 13 his
mother died at Auschwitz and a few months later he converted to
Catholicism. Rabbis in Israel attacked Lustiger during a visit on
behalf of the Vatican. Making him pope might seem an affront to the
Jewish community John Paul II has worked hard to befriend.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
Once the archbishop of Munich and for many years prefect of the Sacred
Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Ratzinger is one of the most
powerful men in the Vatican. No other cardinal sees the pope as often
as this conservative, who is also known as "the Panzer Cardinal." His
candidacy could founder either because he is not Italian or because he
is too close to the pope, or both.
Cardinal Camillo Ruini
Ruini is vicar general of the Rome diocese and president of the Italian
bishops' conference. A one-time theology teacher, he is conservative
and close to the pope, and may prove to be a compromise candidate upon
whom most cardinals can agree.
Cardinal Pio Laghi
Laghi is prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education
and an experienced diplomat whose recent efforts included a push to
expand Catholic education in Cuba. But he lacks pastoral experience
and, while the pope's representative in Argentina, was thought too
passive over the disappearance of thousands of people during that
country's "Dirty War."
Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini
The archbishop of Milan and a front-runner to be the next pope, Martini
has distinguished himself by his pastoral work and as an intellectual
attuned to modern life. But his popularity and his reformist ways - -
he has openly disagreed with John Paul II on the ordination of women --
will probably work against him when the votes are counted.
Cardinal Roger Etchegaray
Etchegaray distinguished himself with a creative pastoral approach and
for 15 years was the archbishop of Marseilles. He is a former president
of the Vatican Council for Justice and Peace.
Cardinal Francis Arinze
As the church expanded into Africa, this son of a Nigerian tribal chief
proved to be able, charismatic and possessed of a keen sense of humor.
He is close to the pope and has been instrumental in the Vatican's
dialogue with Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. Although the cardinals are
unlikely to choose a black pope, Arinze is conservative and,
theologically, would be a safe choice.
Cardinal Angelo Sodano
The Vatican's secretary of state and the highest-ranking official after
the pope, Cardinal Angelo Sodano is a possible papal successor. Born
November 23, 1927, in northern Italy, Sodano was ordained at age 22 and
became a cardinal at 63.
Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi
Archbishop of Genova, Italy, since 1995 and one of the most likely
candidates to succeed Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi is
considered a conservative moral theologian. The cardinal agrees with
the pope's views on birth control and sexual matters. Born March 14,
1934, north of Milan, Italy, he was ordained at age 23 and became a
cardinal at 63. He spent 32 years teaching future priests or running
seminaries in Milan and Rome.
Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez
Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez is
one of the newest names to surface as a possible successor. Born
December 29, 1942, Rodriguez was ordained at age 27 and became a
cardinal this year.
Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera
Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera is a
possible papal contender. Born June 6, 1942, Carrera was ordained at
age 24 and became a cardinal at 55. From 1982 to 1985, he was a
professor of ecclesiology at the Pontifical University of Mexico.
Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos
Prefect of the congregation of clergy at the Vatican, Cardinal Dario
Castrillon Hoyos is a potential successor to Pope John Paul II. Born
July 4, 1929, Hoyos was ordained at age 23 and became a cardinal at 68.
Cardinal Godfried Danneels
Archbishop of Malines-Brussels, Belgium, Cardinal Godfried Danneels is
a potential papal successor. Born June 4, 1933, Danneels was ordained
at age 24 and became a cardinal at 49.