Posted on Sat, Apr. 16, 2005http://www.grandforks.com/images/common/spacer.gif
Cardinal giving final address identified with efforts to heal breach
BY MATTHEW SCHOFIELD
Knight Ridder Newspapers
**ROME - **(KRT) - Monday, after the “Extra omnes” (Everyone out) order has been given, and the 115 voting-eligible cardinals have settled into the Sistine Chapel to pick the next pope, one extra man will remain.
Czech-born Cardinal Tomas Spidlik, at 85, is too old to vote. But his influence may be great: Spidlik will deliver a “state of the church” talk, the last outside voice the cardinals will hear before they begin their deliberations.
“He’s an interesting choice, because he’s so closely tied to the issue of bringing together the eastern and western churches,” said John L. Allen Jr., who covers the Vatican for the National Catholic Reporter and has written several books about the church, including “Conclave,” a look at the papal selection process. “He’ll lay out the direction the church should head. He’s way too smart to give a campaign speech, and it will all be oblique and indirect, but they’ll listen to him.”
Of course, no one knows exactly what he’ll say. Cardinals have taken an oath of silence about the process. Reached this week, Spidlik said he was simply too busy to talk to the media.
But his inclusion as the final speaker to address the conclave - he was chosen by the cardinals - is seen as a sign that the church is committed to finishing an unfulfilled mission of John Paul II, healing the breach between Roman Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity that began in 1054, when the leading bishops of Rome and Constantinople split over papal authority.
John Paul worked to establish greater contact with the Orthodox churches, but his hopes to visit Russia were thwarted by leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church, who accused the Catholic Church of attempting to steal worshippers.
Spidlik has long been identified with efforts to heal the breach. The work he is best known for, the redesign of a papal chapel, combined artwork from both western and eastern sources. He once noted the need for the modern church to “breathe with two lungs, one the West, the other the East.”
Spidlik is also known to share strong views on the need “for the spiritual reconquest of Europe,” a reference to concern that the church has lost influence in Europe and must work to regain it. It is a perspective shared by supporters of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals and one of the leading candidates to replace John Paul.
Spidlik’s talk is officially one of two “de eligendo pontifice” (on electing the Pontiff) meditations. The first took place Thursday and was delivered by a Franciscan priest, Raniero Cantalamessa, who had served since 1980 as John Paul’s personal preacher.
Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls described Cantalamessa’s talk as a meditation to help the cardinals “make an enlightened choice.” Italian press reports - as usual, without attribution - said Cantalamessa told the cardinals to restrain their personal ambitions.
“Be guided by the Holy Spirit,” he reportedly said. “Do not give in to the temptation to advertise yourselves. Don’t be ambitious.”
“At the end of the meditation, the cardinals dedicated a period of time to silence and prayer,” Navarro-Valls said. That was followed, Navarro-Valls said, by “an exchange of ideas on the situation of the church and the world,” which Italian reports called a debate on everything from abortion to euthanasia to divorce.