DAILY CATHOLIC    WEDNESDAY     January 13, 1999     vol. 10, no. 8


      This new feature that we introduce today will spotlight each member of the Conclave. 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, Inside the Vatican and other sources.

5.   Cardinal Luis Martinez Aponte

          One of the few cardinals still living who Pope Paul VI appointed, Cardinal Luis Martinez Aponte is not only one of the more liberal prelates still in the Conclave, but the first native Puerto Rican to head this island nation of over three million Catholics, nearly 83% of the total population. Born in Lajas, Puerto Rico on August 4, 1922 in the southwestern corner of the island, Luis Aponte became a priest on April 10, 1950 after studying for the priesthood in Boston. From his ordination on he was ticketed for the position he now holds for he was appointed secretary to then Bishop James E. McManus, C.ss.R. of the Diocese of Ponce, who was grooming him. On July 23, 1960 he was ordained Bishop, becoming Titular Bishop of Lares and Auxiliary Bishop of Ponce under Bishop McManus. It was the same year the current hierarchy was established. Four years later he was elevated to Archbishop of San Juan on November 4, 1964. He has remained in that capacity for thirty-five years now and there are more than a few Catholics in Puerto Rico who feel his time has come to retire.

          He became a cardinal at the Consistory of March 5, 1973 when Paul VI bestowed the red-hat eight new cardinals, giving him charge of the titular church of St. Mary Mother of Providence in Monte Verde. As archbishop and cardinal his pastoral duties include overseeing one archdiocese and four dioceses with eight bishops and 324 parishes on the one-hundred mile long island. Besides having been a popular parish priest, he has been a staunch crusader of pro-life, campaigning against birth control and sterilization agendas fostered by the Puerto Rican government. Because of his age and non-existent curial experience, he is in no way a candidate for the papacy and has no desires in that direction since, other than his seminary training, has spent his entire life in his beloved homeland.

January 13, 1999       volume 10, no. 8


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