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Donning the mitre with "less pope-y duties"

by Judi McLeod, Editor,
Monday, March 28, 2005

Now off the launching pad and in the running to replace Pope Paul John II, Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, shoots from the lip.

A drawn-looking John Paul II, unable to preside over last Sunday's Palm Sunday for the first time in his 26-year papacy, and reportedly not responding well to his medication, and was unable to speak during the traditional Easter Sunday blessing.

Among the ranks of potential papal replacement cardinals, Maradiaga is restive.

The long on charisma Maradiaga, who hails from Honduras, is ready to rock the Vatican boat.

The difference between the Polish pontiff and the would-be one is of the night and day order.

With endearing dignity and grace, Pope John Paul II earned his title as "Pope of the people".

"John Paul's role in the battle against communism gave him a place in history most other popes never attained." (

When he was known in the 1950s as Father Karol Jozef Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II stood up, undeterred to the power and might of the communists, holding mass in empty fields in any weather.

Like the Communist infiltrators said to be at work in the Vatican, Cardinal Maradiaga would do away with tradition.

Bearing down on the papacy with bold promises for change, "Maradiaga The Loquacious" sounds like he's already there.

"When the Sacred College of Cardinals names me pope, I'm gonna shake things up," Maradiaga said. "And I'm not just talking about giving the Pope mobile a new coat of paint. I'm talking about big moves that will reconfirm the Catholic Church's position as the supreme, full and immediate power in the secretarian world, may God grant us peace."

In a Vatican world where pomp and ceremony are part of life, Maradiaga sounds like the classic high school braggart.

With a parlay based more on braggadocio than Breviary, the competing cardinal says he plays to farm out some of the "less Pope-y duties" after election, if only to free up some of his time.

"Does the Pope really need to be the bishop of Rome?" Maradiaga asks, before answering his own question: "I'll have enough on my plate already, so I'm pretty sure I'll have one of the other cardinals take care of that. Also, I have some great changes I want to make to the Sacrosanctum Concilium of 1963. Nothing in the body or the message–just some gentle massaging to bring some of the wording up to date."

Maradiaga's unbridled ambitions notwithstanding, many Vatican insiders are saying that Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi of Milan is more likely to be named Pope John Paul II's successor. But Maradiaga remains confident there will be an upset.

According to him, the Italian chapter of the Catholic Church is over.

"The Church already had 450 years of Italian popes," Maradiaga said. "After 27 refreshing years with a Polish pope, do you really think people are going to want to go back to Italian popes again? Just because the Vatican is in Italy, that doesn't mean the pope's got to be Italian. With so many Catholics in South America, the times call for a Latin man of God to don the mitre. And that Latin man of God is going to be me, may He strengthen my faith with proofs."

At least the Latin man of God stopped short of saying he'd move the Vatican to Barcelona, as some accuse him of wanting to do.

Not that he's putting Tettamanzi down, or trying to say he's not a good cardinal, "but if you spent a couple minutes in the same room with me and him, I think you'd have a pretty good idea which one of us is better suited to be the Vicar of Jesus Christ and Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church."

The raiment of the Holy Father, the robes, the hat, the staff is "all that benevolent-father stuff" to Maradiaga, and it's "going to stay".

"Hey, I'm not crazy. Also the day-to-day operations of local churches will continue apace. So don't worry, Catholics, I've got your back."

Even though Maradiaga comes with a circle of loyal supporters, some say that his swagger is not what the faithful are looking for in God's representative on earth.

"I know what I want and I'm not afraid to go for it, may He direct my steps to Himself," Maradiaga said. "It's like Pope Pius IX used to say: `It's not the sin of pride if it's true.'"

Meanwhile, the circumspect wait for the Vatican smoke to clear.

Canada Free Press founding editor Most recent by Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years experience in the print media. Her work has appeared on, Drudge Report,, Glenn Beck. Judi can be reached at:

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