SEVILLE, Spain, APRIL 4, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Before traveling to Rome to take part in the conclave, Cardinal Carlos Amigo Vallejo, archbishop of Seville, said that he is living this time “with much peace.”
The cardinal, who in the past was archbishop of Tangier, Morocco, told ZENIT that “in being an elector of the new pope, one feels an enormous responsibility but also trust, because God is not going to put me where he cannot support me.”
Cardinal Amigo, 70, has written several books — the last “Christians and Muslims,” published by Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos. He has taught anthropology and philosophy and is a member of the Spanish episcopal conference’s Permanent Commission.
Q: The headlines today highlight that John Paul II was “great.” Do you like this definition and do you think it is appropriate?
Cardinal Amigo: I believe that definition is still short of the truth. The media have underlined the greatness of his human person and the profound magnitude of his life and work.
He was great as well in the most insignificant things, as his closeness to poor people, and also his magnificent magisterium: He has left our pantry so full that we will be able to nourish ourselves for a long time. He was great in everything.
Q: The Pope approached the Muslims, whom you know well. Was he the Pontiff who was most concerned about the relationship with Islam?
Cardinal Amigo: Muslims’ rapprochement to the Church and to John Paul II has been very significant. What Muslims appreciate profoundly is the man who believes.
They saw in the Pope a man who believed in God, in this case the God of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and for them it is of enormous magnitude that he visited their mosques and that he said that God is the great value that unites all men.
Before returning to Spain, I had to write lines for a meeting of young Muslims in Morocco, the famous meeting of Casablanca which marked a milestone. Young Muslims saw the Pope as a consistent person with great faith in God.
Q: The Pope was a luminous person. Will there be a void without him, or are there reasons for hope?
Cardinal Amigo: During these days we all feel, naturally, sadness and grief but also peace, a peace that grows as the days go by.
We must thank God who sends us such extraordinary persons as him, who went through this life preaching and helping others. We have lived through two weeks — Holy Week and Easter — and this reminds us that there is no cross without resurrection.
Q: How would you like to face the coming days, decisive for the life of the Church?
Cardinal Amigo: With prayer and great trust. I must admit that, when I heard it said, “You are a cardinal, therefore one day you will be an elector of the new pope,” I saw it as far off, very far off. When the moment arrives, one feels an enormous responsibility and, the first days, even anxiety.
But in prayer I discovered that this was happening because I am not very humble. It is necessary to have trust, or in the words of those retiring to the desert: “Don’t worry, as God will not put you where his arm will not support you.”
This is how I am now living. He is not going to put me where he will not support me in the task of electing a new pope.