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Brazilian papal candidate outlines social justice vision

Cardinal Claudio Hummes of São Paolo, Brazil - one of the Latin American cardinals considered a possible successor to Pope John Paul II - last week revealed his determination to apply the Gospel to questions of economic justice and the "option for the poor".

On Friday, National Catholic Reporter Rome correspondent John Allen descrimed Hummes in his weekly Word From Rome column as a "member of the 'Social Justice' current among the cardinals". Hummes, a Franciscan, was the main speaker on Wednesday at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace-sponsored conference "The Call to Justice: The Legacy of Gaudium et Spes 40 Years Later."

Gaudium et Spes is to the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World issued by the Second Vatican Council, 1962-65.

Quoting extensively from Gaudium et Spes, Hummes noted that it expressed an optimistic reading of the world, and affirmed "the autonomy of earthly affairs." Hummes called that recognition "a great step of the Council, and one that synthesized it with modernity."

Hummes praised Gaudium et Spes for embracing the human rights tradition of modernity, including "liberty/autonomy, equality, fraternity, dignity and the inviolable authority of the intimacy of the moral conscience."

Hummes then turned to the call of Gaudium et Spes for the church to be "inserted in the world."

"Gaudium et Spes, inspired by all the reflection of the council, emphasizes that the church is at the service of the human person and all human beings … and does not seek to dominate humanity. In this, it follows the example of Christ, who presented himself as a servant," Hummes said.

Allen characterised the speech as an 'agenda-setting moment' in which a cardinal "lays down a marker" that expresses what might be considered his policy platform for the papal conclave. It is well known that Cardinals are not permitted to "campaign" for the papacy. Allen compared the moment to a similar point in 1999 when Cardinal Carlo Martini, at the time archbishop of Milan and then considered a papal frontrunner, spoke during the Synod of Bishops for Europe.

John L Allen: Papabili at an 'agenda-setting moment' (National Catholic Reporter 18/3/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Cláudio Cardinal Hummes, O.F.M. (
Papal contender has passion for poor (National Catholic Reporter 1/3/02)

Archbishop Romero Commemorated in Rome (Zenit 18/3/05)

21 Mar 2005