Cardinal Claudio Hummes, Archbishop Emeritus of São Paulo in Brazil, died at the age of 87 on July 4, 2022. In March 2013, he had participated in the conclave which resulted in the election of his Argentinian friend, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
Although it was not in accordance with protocol, the Pope then asked him to come with him onto the loggia of St. Peter's Basilica for his first blessing of the crowd. The new pope would confide a few days later that Cardinal Hummes had inspired him to take the name of Francis by whispering in his ear, in the Sistine Chapel: “Do not forget the poor.”
Delegate for the Amazon within the Brazilian Episcopal Conference, at the age of 84, prelate was entrusted with the role of general rapporteur of the synod on the Amazon (October 2019), of which he was the inspiration.
An unconditional supporter of the reforms undertaken by Francis, Cardinal Hummes said of the pope in a 2019 interview with La Civiltà Cattolica: “from the beginning of his pontificate he urged and encouraged the Church to rise up and not to remain static and too confident in her theology, her vision of things, in a defensive attitude.”
“The past is not petrified, it must always be part of history, of a tradition that goes towards the future.” The Swiss agency cath.ch rightly sees Claudio Hummes as a “key figure in Francis’ pontificate,” and a “companion to the Pope.”
The Pope Maker
On the katholisches.info site of July 5, the Vaticanist Giuseppe Nardi provides the following details: “It was Hummes who supported the Archbishop of Buenos Aires starting at the pre-conclave and who, according to him, encouraged Jorge Mario Bergoglio during the conclave. The major concern of the secret St. Gallen Group and the team working on Bergoglio's election was that their Argentine candidate might withdraw his candidacy, as he did in 2005.
“Cardinal Kasper had obtained assurances from Bergoglio that this would not happen again. But it was Hummes who had the task of not leaving Bergoglio in the Sistine Chapel. When the latter introduced himself to the world as the new pope, Hummes the ‘pope-maker’ stood by his side on the loggia of St. Peter's Basilica.”
Giuseppe Nardi continues: “In the changed climate of the new pontificate, in July 2014, Hummes gave the Brazilian newspaper Zero Hora a deeper insight into the mental universe of a ‘pope maker,’ where ‘homosexual marriage,’ the abolition of celibacy, and the priesthood of women are not problems, but play an essential role.”
And he added: “This explains why the Austrian revolutionary missionary bishop Erwin Kräutler found in Hummes the determining companion for the ‘Amazonian working group’ project, whose main objective was the elimination of ‘forced celibacy.’” It was Hummes who opened the door to St. Martha’s House and the Synod on the Amazon.
“Hummes and Kräutler then controlled the REPAM network [Pan-Amazon Church Network], created especially for the synod. Kräutler as president for Brazil, Hummes as general president.”
“It was Hummes who, in the summer of 2018, before the synod, alternately announced, in an enigmatic tone, that the synod ‘could be historic’ or openly declared that the synod would ‘decide on married priests,’ and that this synod ‘was not convened to repeat what the Church has already said, but to move forward.’ In fact, the great objective of the Brazilian prelate was the abolition of ‘forced celibacy,’ as he had already contemptuously called priestly celibacy, in 2010.”
Well documented, Giuseppe Nardi recalls that “Hummes celebrated on the sidelines of the Synod on the Amazon a republication of the 1965 Catacombs Pact. And the day before the opening of the Synod, on October 4, 2019, took place what is known under the name of the ‘dance of the sorcerers in the Vatican’ because of the scandalous introduction of the Pachamama.”
Defender of Brazilian Socialism and Supporter of the Amazon Church
The influence of Cardinal Hummes on the pope was also manifested at the political level, as Giuseppe Nardi points out: “It is also to Hummes that we owe the remarkable commitment of Francis in favor of Lula da Silva.”
“The Pope supported the ‘Freedom for Lula’ campaign, when the former President of the Republic was in prison, suspected of corruption; he sent him messages of solidarity in his prison cell and was outraged by an alleged ‘white glove coup,’ when the electoral defeat of Lula’s socialists loomed in 2018.”
And to conclude: “Cardinal Hummes worked until the end on the project of a ‘Church with Amazonian roots.’ The post-synodal exhortation Querida Amazonian certainly did not bring about the abolition of celibacy that he hoped for in the West, but it did bring a Bergoglian instrument which, used in ‘good’ conditions and with the necessary media cover, offers a lot of room for maneuver for the future.”
“This is how Hummes until recently zealously supported the creation of the Conferencia Eclesial de la Amazonia as a parallel ecclesiastical structure. On July 10, 2020, katholisches.info wrote about this ‘backdoor revolution’: ‘The creation of entirely new institutions opens the way for the elimination of the most 'inconvenient' considerations and the more consistent and direct pursuit of goals.”
“With this new institution, we are reconnecting without transition with the revolutionary agenda that some saw, or at least wanted to see, already shelved. The new institution would be tasked with presenting ‘an important document’ to the Vatican on the question of how to ordain married men in ‘regions without priests.’”
“It is clear that the objectives have remained unchanged and continue to be the following: creation of a new Amazonian rite, abolition of celibacy, admission of married men to the priesthood, admission of women to the sacrament of orders, in as deaconesses – for now – and other progressive legacies. However, it was Cardinal Hummes who became president of the new parallel structure.”
Such is the important support that the pope has just lost. But this loss is already largely compensated by the appointments made by Francis, in the line traced by Cardinal Hummes and the progressive prelates of the St. Gallen Group who worked so hard for his election.