.- Cardinal Claudio Hummes, chosen this week by Pope Benedict XVI as Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, considers the institution of higher standards in priestly formation and the urgency to initiate a plan of "house by house" evangelization as two of the key challenges he will face in his new roll.
In an interview published by the newspaper O Globo, the Prelate said that "first of all what we need is a more rigorous selection in seminaries, higher standards in the formation of future priests, to insure we can have the moral certainty that they are going to have the capabilities to live celibately, as asked by the Church."
Likewise, it must be reiterated that if accusations of sexual misconduct exist on the part of a priest, "they have to be directed to the Holy See."
The cardinal will take the reigns from another Latin-American, the Colombian Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos. The Congregation for the Clergy, has among its functions to oversee the formation and the performance of all the Catholic priests around the world.
According to Cardinal Hummes, one of the challenges that priests should address is the re-evangelization of Catholics themselves. "We should evangelize more, go…from house to house. We have to visit the people. They have to feel the warmth of the Church in which they were baptized," he maintains.
Additionally, he referred to the relationship between faith and science and the necessity of "the Church always being open to dialogue regarding science, reason, and philosophy. The people cannot confuse the opinion of someone as absolute truth. Or some unverified hypothesis as a truth that is presented as having been verified."
For Hummes, the news of his appointment was a big surprise. "The first thing I felt I should do was to begin to pray, to ask God to illuminate me, because for me the voice of the Pope is the voice of God and, therefore, it was necessary to say yes," he indicated.
Cardinal Hummes, who up to this week was the Archbishop of Sao Paulo, hopes to travel to Rome within a month to assume his new position. No successor has been named yet for Hummes in Sao Paolo.