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Aloísio Leo Arlindo Lorscheider, O.F.M. (8 October 1924 – 23 December 2007) was a prominent cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church in Brazil during the 1970s and 1980s. He was renowned as an advocate of liberation theology in the 1970s and was seen by some observers as a serious candidate for the papacy in the two conclaves of 1978.
Early life and ordination
Lorscheider was of German descent, born in Estrela, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. He entered the local Franciscan minor seminary of Taquari at the age of nine years. He began his novitiate in December 1942 and was ordained as a priest on 22 August 1948.
Professor and bishop
He taught a number of subjects – German, mathematics, Latin – but it was not long before he went to Rome to study dogmatic theology. Lorscheider received his doctorate in 1952, and returned to Brazil to teach that same subject at the Franciscan Seminary of Divinopolis.
In 1958 Lorscheider was called back to Rome to teach, and in 1962 he was rewarded for his service in this area by being made bishop of the local diocese of Santo Ângelo. Lorscheider attended the Second Vatican Council between 1962 and 1965, and he was then moved from this local diocese to the Archdiocese of Fortaleza in the northeastern state of Ceará.
As Lorscheider grew in popularity with his flock and his ability as a prelate was recognised, Pope Paul VI gave him a cardinal's hat in May 1976, becoming Cardinal-Priest of S. Pietro in Montorio. Although at the time he was the fourth-youngest cardinal in the college, Lorscheider already doubted his own health. However, some oddsmakers with Ladbrokes (who had him at odds of 33 to 1) considered him a serious papabile in the August 1978 conclave. In 1995 Lorscheider, declining in health much further than was observed during the 1970s, was transferred to the diocese of Aparecida in São Paulo State. He resigned the pastoral government of the Aparecida archdiocese at the beginning of 2004.
He died on 23 December 2007 in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
He defended Leonardo Boff when that theologian was brought to heel by Joseph Ratzinger in the 1980s, and continued his strong social activism, being jailed briefly in 1993 as a result of participating in a protest against government policy.
With the crackdown on dissent in the John Paul II papacy, especially after Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) became prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1981, Lorscheider found himself opposing brother cardinals whom he had been very firmly associated with during the Montini papacy.
Preferential option for the poor
During his Church career, he developed his outspoken stance on the appalling poverty that blighted the region. He believed that the Church was obliged to take a firm stand against this poverty and his hard-working and personable character allowed him to develop links with the poor that he observed to be lacking in previous generations of priests. He was a vehement critic of Brazil's military dictatorship and its torture of political opponents and favoured a flexible approach to church structure.
After John Paul II died Lorscheider said that the European cardinals' "sense of superiority" would not allow them to elect a non-European pope. Ineligible to vote (over the age of 80) and in poor health, he did not attend the pre-conclave discussions for the 2005 conclave that elected Ratzinger as John Paul II's successor.