Friday, March 8, 2013

Know Your Papabile: Christoph Schonborn

Cardinal Christoph Schonborn (Vienna, 68).  A Dominican from ancient Austrian nobility (aren't they all?).  Studied theology under Joseph Ratzinger in Germany, later taught it at Swiss University of Friborg. General editor of the Catechism. A brilliant, multilingual man whom John Allen describes as almost a "beloved son" to Benedict.

Came into Vienna after a sexual abuse scandal involving the previous bishop (who was accused of molesting seminarians and monks) and helped right the ship. In 2010, after Italian Cardinal Sodano called the sexual abuse crises rocking Europe "petty gossip", Schonborn said Sodano had "deeply wronged" the victims and revealed that Sodano had prevented him from blocking investigation of Schonborn's predecessor. Schonborn was summoned to Rome and publicly rebuked for judging another Cardinal. (God forbid that anyone actually call anyone else to accountability.)

Schonborn has had some odd moments, too. He once let his popular vicar general know he'd been sacked by leaving a note at his door. (I'm guessing there was not yet texting.) He tried to make the Ignatius Institute at the University of San Francisco an entity independent of the university, to the considerable displeasure of both the university president and San Francisco's archbishop.

His priests have fought against certain aspects of church teaching in the hundreds in recent years, presenting a "call to disobedience" regarding issues like celibacy and women in the church. Schonborn -- either to his credit or detriment depending on your point of view -- has not shut them down, but engaged them in conversation. He has himself suggested at times he might be open to a married clergy.

Allen reports that he asked one cardinal why so many seem drawn to Schonborn. "Intelligence attracts." He's also been called a "conciliatory pragmatist who is open to dialogue."

His Secret Weapon: Those Watery Big Blues

Wacky Facts: According to John Allen, he's one of 2 cardinals and 19 archbishops, bishops, priests and religious sisters his family has produced. (And that's just his first cousins.) His great-great uncle was the bishop of Budweis. That's right -- he was a Budweiser. (Wish I could take credit for that joke, but it's all John Allen.)

Other Quotes from Cardinal Schonborn:
“We should give more consideration to the quality of homosexual relationships. A stable relationship is certainly better than if someone chooses to be promiscuous."

"Just because people think that they are created by God does not yet justify such a fanatical rejection of their belief."

"Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense – an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection – is not. Any system of thought that denies or seeks to explain away the overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science."

Speaking during the congregations: "It is a time of thirst" for the Church. 

"I hear that 'March of the Penguins' is a wonderful film."

In the Movie, He'd Be Played By: Richard Jenkins

(Do you see it? It could be me.)

If He Doesn't Win, He Could: Publicly call for the ordination of married men. 

His Papal Name Might Be: Innocent XIV (Pope Innocent XIII was learned, holy and kindly. Of course, he also stopped the Jesuits from continuing to take new men. Nobody's perfect.)

Why The Cardinals Might Choose Him: His outspokenness on sexual abuse issues.  Very invested in the new evangelization. Brilliant. A reconciling figure in the Church.

Why They  Might Not: Pretty liberal for this bunch. Also, Sodano is the Dean of the College of Cardinals. Schonborn has allowed such strong divisions to remain in his diocese; some won't be thrilled at that. Also, Sodano is the Dean of the College of Cardinals. Schonborn would be the second German-speaking Pope in a row. Also, did I mention that Sodano is the Dean of the College of Cardinals?


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