One of the cardinals often being mentioned for pope granted an exclusive interview to Reuters recently, and shared his thoughts about the future of the Church:
The Roman Catholic Church must open itself up to women in the next pontificate, giving them more leadership positions in the Vatican and beyond, according to a senior cardinal who will be influential in electing the next pope.
In an exclusive interview with Reuters, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, 69, an Argentine, also said the next pope should not be chosen according to a geographic area but must be a “saintly man” qualified to lead the Church in a time of crisis.
He said one of the greatest challenges facing the Church was trying to win back those suffering from a “loss of faith” who had “turned their back on God” and the Church of their fathers.
Sandri, an experienced diplomat and past number two in the Vatican bureaucracy, is expected to wield great influence in the choice of the man to succeed Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
“The role of women in the world has increased and this is something the Church has to ask itself about,” Sandri said in his office just outside St Peter’s Square where he heads the Vatican department for Eastern Catholic Churches.
“They must have a much more important role in the life of the Church … so that they can contribute to Church life in so many areas which are now, in part, open only to men … This will be a challenge for us in the future.”
At present women, most of them nuns, can only reach the position of under-secretary in Vatican departments, the number three post after president and secretary, which so far have been held by ordained men. Currently only two women are under-secretaries, one a nun and one a lay woman.
Sandri, a son of Italian immigrants who has been mentioned as a papal candidate, said it was “only right” that women should have more key positions in the Vatican administration “where they can make a very important contribution because of their qualifications”.
He added: “But they must also be co-participants in the dialogue and the analysis of the life of the Church and in (other) areas, even in the formation of priests, where they can play a very, very important role.”…
…He listed the qualities a pope should have as:
- “A pope who has a certain vigor, a physical resistance, a capacity to carry out all the commitments of the papacy.”
- “A great ability to communicate, a gift to be able to express to others that the pope is a representative of God and the vicar of Christ but is also a human being who smiles, who shakes hands, who embraces people, who reaches out to people and is close to all those to approach him.”
- “He should also be one who knows how to govern, not only from personal experience but who will also surround himself with people who can help him do this.”