Mexico's newest cardinal champions the poor, preaches humility
October 18, 2007 - Houston Chronicle
With Robles, the
"He is tied more to progressive sectors," said anthropologist Elio Masferrer, an authority on the Mexican Catholic church.
Robles, 58, becomes one of six Mexican cardinals, only half of whom will be eligible to vote for the next pontiff should the 80-year-old Pope Benedict XVI either die or retire in the near future.
Masferrer said Rivera is a cardinal with a "preference for the rich" and Sandoval is allied with the more traditional and conservative Catholicism.
As senior prelate in
Many of the city's elite
A glance at his recent sermons suggests that Robles might give the rich a reason for indigestion.
"Ill-gotten and ill-used riches close our heart," Robles said in a homily two Sundays ago. "We can pass our lives without even realizing the existence of the poor, the needy, the people who require our help."
Robles' ascension to cardinal
comes at a crucial time for the Catholic church in
While the Mexican senior clergy remains dominated by conservatives, many of its parish priests and nuns, especially those in impoverished communities, favor the so-called theology of liberation, which preaches a "preferential option for the poor."
Robles is not considered a liberation theology adherent, Masferrer said.
With only about 14,000 priests, the Mexican church has just one cleric per 7,000 faithful. In contrast, Masferrer said, there is one Protestant pastor for every 300 believers.
In addition, Rivera is battling
allegations that he protected a priest accused of sexually abusing young boys in
Because active cardinals elect the pope, their naming is as much a political as a religious act.
With the 23 new cardinals named
this week, the pope seems to have bolstered the clergy in Europe over those in the
Benedict, the former Cardinal
Joseph Ratzinger, was elected upon the death in 2005 of John Paul II. Speculation
circulated before Benedict's elevation that a clergyman from
Two other Latin American
bishops were named cardinal with Robles. Argentine Leandro Sandri, 63, is a longtime
Robles, the third of 16
children born to a working-class family in Jalisco state, was educated in seminaries and
ordained in 1976. After three years of study in
"Humility is a virtue that God rewards," Robles said in another sermon. "How dangerous is haughtiness for whoever has power, whatever kind of power, political or economic.
"We must be humble."