Former Brazilian Cardinal Aloisio Lorscheider dead at 83

If history had been a little different, Cardinal Lorscheider may have been elected pope in 1978. He had support among third world Cardinals at the conclave where the successor to Pope Paul VI was elected. According to one book I read, one of Lorscheider’s supporters was the future Pope John Paul I.

I can’t find the source for what I write next. Somewhere I read that between the two conclaves of 1978,(Remember John Paul I’s time as Pope was only 33 days long.) Lorrscheider fell ill perhaps having a heart attack. After the short reign of JP I, the Cardinals were reluctant to choose another Pope who may well have health problems. Pope John Paul II according to reports, was a compromise choice at the October conclave, would he have been elected if Lorscheider had been in good health.

Talking about the what ifs of history is interesting for debates and blogging, but not of much use otherwise. Lorscheider lived almost another 30 years after the events of 1978. By all accounts he was honorable person, who had a deep faith in God. RIP.

Update- Lorscheider may have been the first Latin American or Third World Cardinal in some time to be seriously considered for the papacy. I’m betting we see a Pope from these parts of the world in my lifetime.

SAO PAULO, Brazil – Aloisio Lorscheider, one of Latin America’s most influential cardinals, died Sunday after a lengthy hospital stay. He was 83.

The Brazilian cardinal was hospitalized in early December with a heart condition, the Aparecida Archdiocese said in a statement, without giving more details.

The two-time president of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops played an influential role in the two conclaves of 1978 and pushed for the election of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Poland, who became Pope John Paul II.

Lorscheider created a stir in Brazil in 1998 when he doubted the healing effects of popular, tiny, rice-paper pills linked to Friar Galvao, who this year became Brazil’s first native-born saint.

Shortly after Galvao was beatified as a key step toward his sainthood, Lorscheider, then the Archbishop of Aparecida do Norte, ordered nuns to stop making what he called “small pieces of paper that foster superstition.”

“Those pills are like the fake medicines that miracle workers claim could cure all diseases,” Lorscheider said.

Thousands of believers still flock to the 18th-century Luz Monastery every day for the pills, three of which must be swallowed over a nine-day period.

Lorscheider was born Oct. 8, 1924, in Picada Geraldo, Rio Grande do Sul state. He became Archbishop of Fortaleza in 1973, and in 1976 he was nominated cardinal by Pope Paul VI.

After the death of Paul VI, Lorscheider reportedly helped lobby other Third World cardinals to vote for the Patriarch of Venice, who became Pope John Paul I.

After the pope died 33 days after his election, Lorscheider pushed for the election of Wojtyla, who became John Paul II.

Lorscheider led the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops from 1971 until 1978. He also presided over the Latin American Episcopal Council in 1976.

He retired from the command of the Aparecida archdiocese in 2004.

"You Keep Using That Word. I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means."
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