Say the words “Brazilian pope” in Rome, and most people assume you’re talking about the candidacy of Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer of São Paulo, recently floated in the Italian media as part of a “ticket” being put forward by the Vatican’s old guard, with one of their own slated to take over Secretary of State, writes John Allen in NCR Online.
Some observers take those reports at face value, while others believe they’re calculated to damage Scherer’s chances by linking him to what Sandro Magister describes as “the feudal lords of the curia.”
In any event, Scherer is not the only Brazilian waiting in the wings. There’s another runner from the world’s largest Catholic country, whose humble roots and pastoral outlook could make him an attractive choice: 65-year-old Cardinal João Bráz de Aviz, who generally goes by the simple appellation of “Dom João.”
The politics of the 2013 conclave may leave the door open to a compromise candidate between two factions which, at first blush, seem unlikely allies. Devoted Ratzingerians are furious at poor performance by Vatican mandarins, which in their view too often left Benedict XVI vulnerable to criticism and may have hastened his decision to step down, and they’re looking to shake things up. Moderates, meanwhile, would like a pope a bit closer to the ideological and theological center.
Both currents could intersect in Bráz.
Born in the city of Mafra in southern Brazil in 1947, Bráz de Aviz has served since January 2011 as prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, better known as the “Congregation for Religious.”
Braz comes from a poor family, with four brothers and three sisters, one of whom has Down’s Syndrome. His father was a butcher, and their surroundings were so rural that when a child was born, the family had to travel by horse-drawn carriage for 25 miles to have the baby baptized.
Braz entered a minor seminary in 1958, at the tender age of 11, which was run by the Fathers of the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions.
FULL STORY Papabile of the day: Cardinal João Bráz de Aviz (NCR)