January 21-23, 2000
volume 11, no. 15

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    Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we spotlight each member of the Conclave in alphabetical order. We find this necessary as our dear Sovereign Pontiff Pope John Paul II grows older, clinging to hope, as we join him, of seeing the light of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart with the dawn of the new millennium - the Jubilee Year 2000. How much longer this 264th successor of Peter has left on this earth only God knows for sure, but His Divine Mercy is evident in allowing him to be with us this long for he truly is a saint for our times, truly Christ's Vicar on earth in these waning days before the glorious Reign of the Sacred Heart, the Time of Peace, the Era of the Eucharistic Presence, the New Pentecost, the Second Advent, the Age of the Holy Spirit. What 1999 will bring we have no idea, nor does anyone else, but with John Paul II at the helm, we feel much more secure in knowing God's Will will be done. Nevertheless, we want to preview the future Pope whether that be soon or much, much later, for no one lives forever and eventually one of those prelates will be selected as the 265th successor of Peter. This will give the reader a better insight into the man whom the Holy Spirit will move the conclave to choose. Thus we bring the reader vignettes on each cardinal in alphabetical order gleaned from the Catholic Almanac, The Official Catholic Directory, Inside the Vatican and other sources.

148.   Cardinal Augusto Vargas Alzamora, S.J.

    Saint Rose of Lima would be proud of the current shepherd of Lima Cardinal Augusto Vargas Alzamora for he exemplifies the virtues and aims the western hemisphere's first saint lived. He was born on November 9, 1922 in Lima, Peru. At the age of 18 he entered the Jesuit seminary and 15 years later on July 15, 1955 became a priest of the Society of Jesus in Spain. He was assigned various pastoral assignments in Spain before returning to his native Peru and continuing to work with his people as well as young men in the Jesuit seminary as Novice Master, Provincial Delegate to the General Chapter for Education, and Rector of the Order's School of the Immaculate Conception. On June 8, 1978 Pope Paul VI named him Titular Bishop of Cissi. He was ordained on August 15, 1978 - the Solemnity of the Assumption. At the same time he was also appointed Vicar Apostolic of San Francisco Javier in Peru where he served for six years until 1985. He was elected Secretary General of the Peruvian Bishops' Conference in 1982 and from that time on worked feverishly in helping young men and women to understand the Faith, not afraid to take them on outings into the slums of Lima so they could see first-hand the squalor and a more vivid reminder of what Christ asked in helping the poor and downtrodden. He wanted them to be strongly aware of social injustice.

    On December 30, 1989 Pope John Paul II promoted Bishop Vargas to Archbishop of Lima, a position he still holds. When he came in there was much violence by the Sendero Luminoso which means "Shining Path." They had been making waves since 1980 but in 1988 they had stepped up their campaign of violence. He made an impassioned plea to them to stop the violence. Though they were slow to respond, their own fate was sealed for in 1992 their leader Abimael Guzman Reynoso was arrested and sentenced to life, effectively ending the threat. Possibly because of his strong stand against the Sendero Luminoso and his popularity with the people - 90% of which are Roman Catholic, Archbishop Vargas was named in the Holy Father's Consistory of November 25, 1994. He received the coveted red-hat and the titular church of St. Robert Bellarmine. He enjoys curial membership in the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. How long he will stay on as Archbishop of Lima is contingent on his health for he just turned 77, but seems to be holding up fairly well.


January 21-23, 2000
volume 11, no. 15

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