Cardinals may look to Europe, says Twomey


SuccessorA leading Irish theologian and former student under Pope Benedict says he believes his successor may also come from Europe.

Fr Vincent Twomey, professor emeritus of moral theology at Maynooth, whose doctoral studies at the University of Regensburg were supervised by the then Prof Joseph Ratzinger, said yesterday that the cardinals had indicated that “Europe is a priority still because Europe still exports its ideas which are secularist and which are quite destructive” from a Catholic Church viewpoint.

One possibility was the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, who had travelled widely and built a strong reputation for evangelisation.

“Central to the pope’s pontificate, apart from all his religious dialogues, was the attempt to regain the sense of the primacy of God.”

Benedict XVI had identified atheism as a particular problem and “if that is still the question then they may go for my friend Christoph”, said Fr Twomey.

The theologian told RTÉ Radio 1’s News at One that the last time he saw the pope was in August with his alumni. “We all felt he looked grey and tired and shrivelled to a certain extent.” Fr Twomey said that before Benedict departed “he did something rather strange which he never did before” which was to greet each of them individually. “I thought at the time: Did he want to say goodbye? It looks like he did”.

Fr Sean McDonagh, a Columban missionary, said he hoped the decision would lead to “a new paradigm of leadership in the Catholic Church”.

“I am very delighted and I think it will be one of the big things that history will come down on Benedict XVI that he took a very courageous decision and he did it really well.” Fr McDonagh added that “the kind of person I would love to see” as pope was Archbishop of Manila Luis Antonio Tagle, who was “committed to whole areas of justice and peace”.