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Viewing cable 07SAOPAULO250, SAO PAULO GETS NEW ARCHBISHOP

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07SAOPAULO250 2007-03-27 16:04 2010-12-14 06:06 UNCLASSIFIED Consulate Sao Paulo
VZCZCXRO6842
PP RUEHRG RUEHROV
DE RUEHSO #0250/01 0861625
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 271625Z MAR 07
FM AMCONSUL SAO PAULO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6660
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 7785
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 3482
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 7939
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 2685
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0471
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 2973
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 2312
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 2024
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 3289
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0556
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0243
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SAO PAULO 000250 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

STATE FOR WHA/BSC, EUR/WE, AND DRL/IRF 
STATE PASS USTR FOR CRONIN 
NSC FOR FEARS 
DEPT OF TREASURY FOR OASIA, DAS LEE AND JHOEK SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD 
USAID FOR LAC/AA PARIS FOR ECON - TOM WHITE E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: SCUL PREL PGOV PINR ECON BR

SUBJECT: SAO PAULO GETS NEW ARCHBISHOP 

------- SUMMARY ------- 

1. Summary: On March 21, Pope Benedict XVI named Bishop Odilo Pedro Scherer, Secretary-General of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB), to be the next Archbishop of Sao Paulo. Dom Odilo replaces Dom Claudio Hummes, who in October of last year was named Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy. The new Archbishop served previously as Auxiliary Bishop of Sao Paulo under Cardinal Hummes and is expected to provide continuity to the world's third largest archdiocese. Dom Odilo has been considered a conservative voice in the CNBB, meaning that he has opposed having the Church tied to any political party and has spoken out on behalf of traditional moral values. At the same time, he strongly supports Catholics' participation in politics, arguing that disdain for the political process can create a vacuum opening the way to tyranny and dictatorship. Bishop Scherer is scheduled to be sworn in on April 29 and will likely have high visibility during the Pope's May 9-13 visit to Sao Paulo. There is already considerable speculation that he will receive his Cardinal's red hat in the next few years. End Summary. 
--------------- BIOGRAPHIC NOTE --------------- 

2. Odilo Scherer was born in 1949 in Cerro Largo, Rio Grande do Sul state. Like his two immediate predecessors, Hummes (1998-2006) and Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns (1970-1998), he is a southern Brazilian of German heritage (his grandparents were German immigrants). Scherer grew up in Curitiba, capital of Parana state, and in Toledo in the rural western part of the state. His father owned a small plot of land and supported his eleven children by selling agricultural goods. Dom Odilo was ordained in 1976 and was consecrated bishop in 2002. He has spent many years in Rome, serving in several Vatican offices and pursuing advanced studies at the Gregorian University, earning a Master's and a Doctorate in theology. In 2002 he returned to Brazil to take up duties as Auxiliary Bishop of Sao Paulo, and was elected in 2003 to his current position at the CNBB. 

------------------------------------ PARTICIPATION IN POLITICS IS HEALTHY ------------------------------------ 

3. Bishop Scherer represents a new generation of Brazilian Catholic bishops who, under the influence of Pope John Paul II, helped reduce the influence of liberation theology over the Church in Brazil. He is expected as Archbishop to devote more attention to religious and moral issues and less to politics. This does not mean, however, that he will avoid political confrontations should they arise. In contrast to Cardinal Hummes, who is moderate, subtle, and understated, Bishop Odilo is considered plain-spoken and politically independent. In a December 2006 interview, he decried a "prejudice against politics" on the part of those Brazilians who, alienated by corruption scandals, suspended their participation in political life. The idea of waiting until the system has been cleansed of corruption, he said, doesn't work. Rather, the faithful should enter the political arena to help make it cleaner and more transparent. "I don't think we can wait for angels to come down from heaven to govern Brazil. Chaos arises from the hatred of politics, and absolutism gains the upper hand. Hatred of politics leads to despotism." 

------- COMMENT ------- 

4. One challenge facing the new Archbishop is the impressive growth of evangelical protestant movements, which now boast approximately 22 million followers in Brazil, many of them former Catholics. Scherer's friends and family note that he grew up in a rural area of southern Brazil with a mixture of Catholics and Lutherans and was ecumenical before it became popular. His mission is to help the Church in Brazil to return to its religious roots while at the same time broadening its popular appeal. In this regard, he expressed the intention of continuing his predecessors' efforts to raise the profile and relevance of the Church in the periphery of metropolitan Sao Paulo, which remains rife with poverty, social exclusion, and violence. Right now, Scherer's immediate priority is to lead efforts to prepare for the May 9-13 visit of the Pope, who is scheduled to inaugurate a conference of Latin American and Caribbean bishops at the national shrine in Aparecida, Sao Paulo state, and to canonize the first Brazilian-born saint, Frei Antonio Galvao (1739-1822). End Comment. 

5. This cable was coordinated with Embassy Brasilia. 

MCMULLEN