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Arns tells Rome he is eager to retire.

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- The delay in the appointment of a successor to Cardinal Arns as archbishop of Sao Paulo has resurfaced as a topic of discussion in Brazil.

Arns himself prompted the discussion during a recent news conference.

The Vatican still has not accepted his resignation, submitted in September 1996, when he reached the canonical retirement age of 75. He said he is eager to retire and feels that his status as "lame-duck" archbishop is beginning to hamper the administration of the archdiocese.

At his annual Christmas news conference on Dec. 23, 1997, the cardinal said that he had pressed the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, on the question during the Synod for America in Rome.

Arns told reporters his successor should be announced "in December or January, probably in February." However, friends of the cardinal and archdiocesan officials say that this is more a message to Rome than a statement of fact, and that there is still no hard news about the succession.

Sources in the Brazilian Bishops' Conference say that they expect an appointment to be made shortly, and that the front-runner is Geraldo Majella Agnelo, a Sao Paulo bishop serving as secretary to the Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome. Majella is said to be the consensus candidate. Being from the Sao Paulo clergy is likely to make him generally acceptable, and it is thought that he would not make drastic changes in the archdiocese's current orientation.

On the other hand, other names are still mentioned, notably those of two auxiliaries, and Bishop Celso Queiroz, a former secretary general of the bishops' conference, and Bishop Angelico Sandalo Bernadino, though both are probably too progressive to be acceptable to the current Vatican regime.

Arns has recovered from the cancer in the muscle of his left eye, for which he was successfully treated in early 1997. He is due to have laser treatment in late January for a cataract in the eye, which makes it difficult for him to read.

In an article in the Christmas Day edition of the newspaper A Folha de Sao Paulo, Arns returned to a theme he raised at the recent Synod for America: solidarity in the service of justice. "The whole church in the Americas," he wrote, "is called to renewal, to be a sign and witness of solidarity. It must be vigilant to see that real, operative justice is the motor of the changes we are experiencing. In the pluralist world, with its variety of cultures, the church is called to dialogue and to service, across the barriers of race, religion, social class, parties, factions and nations."

The church, he said, "does not seek to be the tutor of society. It seeks to serve better. It seeks to enter into dialogue with all the dynamic forces in social life."

The replacement of Arns is being seen in tandem with that of Cardinal Eugenio Sales, archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Sales is a year older than Arns, but there have been persistent rumors that he would be kept on longer, even to the year 2000, when he would be 80.
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Title Annotation:Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns, archbishop of Sao Paulo, Brazil
Author:McDonagh, Francis
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jan 16, 1998
Words:520
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