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Cardinal Claudio Hummes: Profile of a Candidate for Pope

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Who is Cardinal Claudio Hummes?:

Claudio Hummes was born on August 8, 1934, in southern Brazil to a German immigrant family.

Background and Early Life of Claudio Hummes:

Claudio Hummes is a Franciscan monk who became a priest in 1958 and bishop in 1975. During the 1970s, when he was bishop of the Santo Andre diocese, he allowed union leaders to make political speeches during mass. His predecessor at Sao Paolo, Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns, was a staunch defender of human rights and Hummes sought to emulate him.

Current Status of Claudio Hummes:

Claudio Hummes is archbishop of Sao Paolo, Brazil, the nation with the world’s largest Catholic population.

Theology of Claudio Hummes:

Claudio Hummes was theologically liberal (some would say revolutionary) when he was a young bishop, supporting workers’ strikes and opposing Brazil’s military regime. Under John Paul II, however, Hummes moved more to the right and distanced himself from involvement in politics. He continues to back some liberal causes such as the landless movement, however, and cautions political leaders against forgetting their social responsibilities.

Assessment of Claudio Hummes:

Claudio Hummes could be perceived as a good balance between progressive and conservative trends. He started out liberal, became more conservative, yet continues to defend certain progressive positions. He’s conservative when it comes to many basic doctrines but liberal when it comes to issues involving social justice.

Claudio Hummes is also from the third world. Many cardinals would like to elect a pope from the third world if possible, because the largest and fastest growing populations of Catholics are located in third world countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. A pope from a nation in one of these regions would make it easier for the Catholic church to reach out to the large, poor, and theologically conservative Catholic populations.

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