DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY     June 21, 1999     vol. 10, no. 119


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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, Inside the Vatican and other sources.

69.   Cardinal Nicholas de Jesus Lopez Rodriquez

          The Dominican Republic's only cardinal is Cardinal Nicholas de Jesus Lopez Rodriquez who was born on all Hallow's Even in 1936 in Barranca on the Island of the Dominican Republic. At the age of twenty-five he was ordained a priest in Hispaniola which had only one diocese at that time, the entire Dominican Republic. Shortly after ordination he was sent to Rome to take advanced studies at the Angelicum and Gregorian Universities. Upon receiving his degrees he returned to the Dominican Republic where he was assigned to an important position in pastoral work in the newly-formed Diocese of San Francisco de Macoris. It was here on February 25, 1978 that Pope Paul VI made him the first bishop of this diocese. On November 15, 1981 Pope John Paul II promoted him to Archbishop of Santo Domingo. Three years later he was appointed President of the Dominican Republic Episcopal Conference and was also named Military Ordinary for the Dominican Republic. In 1989 the Pope tabbed him as Counselor of the Pontifical Committee for Latin America, a position he held until 1994.

          In the June 28, 1991 Consistory he was among those elevated to the cardinalate, receiving the titular church of St. Pius X at alla Balduina. Since then he has had an active membership in a number of Curial offices including the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Congregation for the Clergy, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life as well as the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. The latter commission is meeting this week at the Vatican to review the past one hundred years and commemorate the centennial of the Latin Plenary Council.

          The Dominican Republic is nearly ninety percent Roman Catholic in a country of eight million people. In fact, Catholicism is the state religion. Evangelization to this island nation that borders Haiti on the west first began after Christopher Columbus discovered this island he called Hispaniola. In fact, it was the first organized Christian movement in the new world, being established before the Protestant Reformation began during the pontificate of Pope Julius II and before the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego in Mexico. Cardinal Lopez Rodriguez was also instrumental in helping establish the Pontifical Catholic University "Mother and Teacher" on September 9, 1987.

          He also hosted the Holy Father's visit there in 1992 to open the Latin American Conference in Santo Domingo and, because of his age and speculation that the next Pope could be a Latino, might be a darkhorse in the next conclave since he is only 63 and has hands-on international experience in various curia memberships. For the Cardinal, however, he is quite content to remain the Archbishop of the Dominican Republic's largest city shepherding over five million Catholics.

June 23, 1999       volume 10, no. 121


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