The pope’s pricey visit to Brazil

Gabriel Elizondo – Al Jazeera, 05/24/2013

Local and federal security officials in Brazil – primarily in Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia – are increasingly preoccupied over providing protection for Pope Francis’ seven day visit to Rio de Janeiro July 22-28.

Officials here at the highest levels in recent weeks have put into place what will be the largest, most intricate, and unprecedented protection operation ever mounted in the country for a visiting high-level dignitary, officials have told me.

The papal visit presents a unique set of highly complicated security concerns never before seen in Brazil.

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Brazil forgets rivalry in Argentine triumph

The Times of India/AP, 03/15/2013

Bitter rivals in soccer. The butt of one another’s biting jokes. The samba versus the tango.

Brazil and its neighbour Argentina are bitter rivals in just about everything. But now, in the realm of religion at least, Argentina has supremely passed the giant next door.

The Wednesday election of Pope Francis, formerly known as Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, put the country a step ahead of Brazil when it comes to holy matters.

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Brazil holds out hope for homegrown pope

ABC News/Associated Press, 03/13/2013

Roman Catholics across Brazil are cautiously holding out hope one of their own will be the next pope.

No nation has more Catholics than Brazil, where about 124 million people are of that faith.

Cardinal Odilo Scherer appears to be Brazil’s best hope of having a pope. He’s cited by many Vatican watchers as a front runner to replace Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned last month.

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Black smoke signals no pope elected at first conclave vote

Crispian Balmer and Philip Pullela – Reuters, 03/12/2012

Thick black smoke billowed from the Sistine Chapel’s chimney on Tuesday, signaling an inconclusive first vote in the conclave to elect a new pope at a time of strife and scandal for the Roman Catholic Church.

Thousands of faithful huddled in St. Peter’s Square to watch the smoke pour out of the narrow flue in the rain-laden gloom following a day rich in ritual and pageantry.

Earlier, after praying for divine guidance, the red-hatted cardinals took a solemn vow in Latin never to divulge any details of their deliberations. They then secluded themselves behind the chapel’s heavy wooden doors.

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The next pope could be a Brazilian banker

Anderson Antunes – Forbes, 03/11/2013

As a conclave gathers to elect a new pope, many in the Catholic world and well beyond speculate about who will replace the now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who abdicated the throne of St. Peter on February 11, the first papal resignation in almost 600 years. It is true that in the secretive world of the Vatican there is no way to know who is in the running, not to mention that history has yielded plenty of surprises, but there are a few names that have come up time and again as “papabile,” a term coined by Vaticanologists to describe the likely contenders to be elected pontiff. One of those names is that of Brazilian cardinal Odilo Scherer, Brazil‘s best hope to be the next pope.

At the relatively young age of 63, Scherer is known for enthusiastically embracing all new methods for reaching believers. He has appeared on Brazil’s most popular late-night talk-show. He is a prolific tweeter. He even prefers to squeeze into the busy and crowded subway of Sao Paulo, where he was appointed archbishop in 2007 and was named a cardinal later the same year, on his way to his morning commutes.

Scherer, who speaks Italian, German and Portuguese fluently and is proficient in English, French and Spanish, is also known as one of the “Vatican bankers,” a committee of cardinals who oversee the Istituto per la Opere di Religione (IOR), or the Institute for Works of Religion, commonly known as the Vatican Bank, as well as being a member of The Prefecture for Economic Affairs, which coordinates the finances of the Holy See. Scherer was a constant presence in Rome during the “Vatileaks” scandal, the leaking of Vatican documents allegedly exposing corruption and money laundering charges that cost the church millions in higher contract prices and cost Ettore Gotti Tedesche, the then-CEO of the IOR, his job.

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Rebel Theologian Says Obama Paves Way for Black Pontiff

Joshua Goodman – Bloomberg, 02/19/2013

Catholic cardinals impressed by Barack Obama’s rise to power may be encouraged to elect the first black pope, according to a Brazilian theologian once silenced by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became pope.

Leonardo Boff said the chances of an African such as Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana becoming the next pontiff are slim after Pope Benedict XVI named most of the 117 cardinals who will choose his successor in a conclave next month. Still, Obama’s election as U.S. president may open up the Vatican’s old guard to change, easing opposition to contraception and women priests, he said.

“Without a doubt Obama’s presence is going to be felt among the cardinals,” Boff, a former Franciscan friar who studied with Ratzinger at the University of Munich in the 1960s, said in a phone interview. “We already have a black president, so why not a black religious president?”

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