Brazil’s Reaction to Pope Benedict XVI’s Resignation

Pope Benedict XVI visiting in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News

The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI was announced this week, causing speculation of who would be his successor and shocking Catholic communities worldwide. Brazil has the largest Catholic population worldwide, an estimated 1.2 billion Catholics. Estimates say that Brazil’s population is 65% Catholic and 22% Protestant, however, which is indicating change in the prominence of the Catholic church. Many Brazilians do not agree with the churches opinions on women, homosexuality, and birth control, causing some conversion to the Protestant faith that has a more open stance on these subjects.

Brazil currently has 5 eligible cardinals, out of 9, in the College of Cardinals that could be placed as the new Pope. The favorites are Archbishop of São Paulo Odilo Scherer and Archbishop of Brasília João Braz de Aviz. Archbishop Gerhard Müller told the media: “I know a lot of bishops and cardinals from Latin America who could take responsibility for the Church.”

There are analysts that say the Vatican is not at a point yet where they will accept a non-European Pope. Their current favorite is Archbishop of Milan Angelo Scola. A professor of theology, Paulo Fernando Carneiro de Andrade, says the choice doesn’t always come down to the size of a country’s Catholic population. He states “The profile sought has more to do with the [candidate’s] ability to bring together the interests of the Curia and thus guarantee the proper functioning of the Catholic Church.”

A life-long Catholic and festival organizer told the Rio Times of her reaction recently “He was too traditional and didn’t fit into our new world, for example by embracing gay marriage and science. I hope the new pope will find a way to connect with younger people: being more liberal would help.” Her opinion doesn’t stand alone.

Pope Benedict XVI was supposed to open World Youth Day 2013 in Rio at the end of July, however since stepping down, Brazil should see the new Papacy attend their event in his stead. Arrangements for the event have continued as per usual.