Cardinal Scherer: The “Dom” from Brazil
As spiritual leader of the largest Catholic city in the world, Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer has an important position, that makes the Latin American one of the favorites for the Papal Office.
The Cardinal of the largest Catholic city in the world, is traded not only in Latin American media, but also in the Italian “Repubblica” as “Papabile”: The name Odilo Pedro Scherer (63), since 2007 Archbishop of Sao Paulo, is found in all favorites lists as potential top candidate of the Conclave.
The eloquent Cardinal from Brazil is regarded as very well networked and has strong backing in the Vatican. He belongs to the conservative wing of the Brazilian Church, but from a European perspective, he could probably pass as a moderate conservative.
Odilo Pedro Scherer was born on September 21, 1949, in the State of Rio Grande do Sul as one of eleven children. His ancestors migrated in the 1880s from the Saarland (Germany) to Brazil. The dignity of being a Cardinal was virtually predestined: His uncle Alfredo Vicente, who died in 1996, was the Archbishop of Porto Alegre and also Cardinal.
Odilo Scherer took the biography of his uncle apparently as a role model: he studied Catholic theology, philosophy and educational sciences. He was ordained a priest in 1976. It was followed by in-depth philosophical studies at the Gregorian in Rome, he further received his doctorate at the Brazilian Pontifical Pius College in theology. His thirst for knowledge led Scherer to other universities in Brazil, Germany, France and England. Scherer is fluent in his native language Portuguese, English, Italian and German.
Thus, a career as professor seemed to be bound to occur: Scherer became pricipal and professor at the Seminary of Cascavel in the Brazilian State of Paraná, later at the Diocesan Seminary in Toledo, where he also worked as pastor from 1985 to 1988, and also at the Theological Centre in Cascavel. Teaching in philosophical and theological faculties completed Scherers work on the college level.
From 1994 to 2001 Scherer worked at the Congregation of Bishops at the Vatican. Pope John Paul II. appointed Scherer suffragan bishop of Sao Paulo on November 28 2001. Pope Benedict XVI. finally appointed him in his current position as Archbishop of Sao Paulo on March 21 2007. On November 24 of that same year he has been admitted into the College of Cardinals.
Commitment to fair land reform
Odilo Pedro Scherer, in Brazil called “Dom Odilo” is, pins his hope in the 15-million metropolis of Sao Paulo, on young charismatic spiritual communities to position the Catholic Church against the emerging Pentecostal churches. The Archbishop of Sao Paulo repeatedly denounces human rights violations, political corruption and slavery. As a cause of the ongoing violence in rural areas Scherer always points to inequities in land allocation and distribution. He is regarded as a fierce advocate for a fair land reform.
For Scherer, the commitment to social justice and solidarity in the name of the Gospel is the merit of the liberation theology. However, the time of liberation theology is over, he says. Scherer sees a dangerous tendency, if faith is reduced to a political ideology. In the spirit of Pope Benedict XVI., Cardinal Scherer repeatedly denounces the “relativism of values”; The Christian social ethics must be corrective to what ha calls a “culture of total subjectivism”.
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