Brazilian cardinal criticizes President after inquired about Brazilian Pope

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April 8, 2005

Brazilian cardinal Dom Eusébio Oscar Scheid, Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, harshly criticized Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva after arriving in Rome on Tuesday. The criticism was in response to a journalist from the Brazilian newspaper O Estado de São Paulo who asked if it was now time for Brazil to have a Pope after having a worker President.

Dom Eusébio said: "No, don't put Lula [the Brazilian Presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva] in this story, not yet. You'll mess up everything because he and the Holy Spirit don't agree that well. Do you think that he knows the Holy Spirit?"

Eusébio, commenting on the Brazilian President's opinions about the new Pope, said "Lula shouldn't try to interfere or give hunches." He also added that, "Lula doesn't have a straight faith. His attitudes are not logical under our faith. His faith isn't cultivated. Lula is not Catholic, he is chaotic."

He went on to criticize the government, saying "Lula is very poorly advised. We are almost under a dictatorship because everybody is from PT [the Workers' Party]... I have some doubts about Lula's words. Politicians say one thing one time and they say other things later."

On Brazilian foreign policy, Archbishop Eusébio said: "It is extremely towards the left... [I think about the visit of President Lula da Silva to Fidel Castro in Cuba] that they were two fools meeting each other. The Left has never benefited anyone. Look at Russia, China and Cuba."

The Brazilian cardinal Dom Eusébio Oscar Scheid has been discussed as a possible papabile, or one who could become Pope, though he has said "Nobody wants to be Pope. Who wants to be Pope?"

Until Wednesday, the Brazilian government declined to comment on Dom Eusébio's interview.

Dom Eusébio Oscar Scheid, along with Dom Cláudio Hummes who is Archbishop of São Paulo, tried to play down the statements on Wednesday. Dom Eusébio said of the interview, it was made on an inappropriate occasion, after a long, tiring flight and that he didn't want to disrespect the government. According to Dom Eusébio, the succession of John Paul II is not a subject which the President should address. Dom Cláudio said that President Lula is Catholic, in his way.

Dom Eusébio Oscar Scheid is 73. He will take part on the Conclave that will choose the new Pope. Dom Cláudio Hummes, 71, is seen as a serious Latin-American candidate to the succession of Pope John Paul II.