Final day of jockeying before papal conclave begins



Cardinals, including U.S. Roger Mahony, left, and Timothy Dolan, third from left, arrive for a meeting at the Vatican, Monday March 11, 2013. Cardinals have gathered for their final day of talks before the conclave to elect the next pope amid debate over whether the Catholic Church needs a manager pope to clean up the Vatican’s messy bureaucracy or a pastoral pope who can inspire the faithful and make Catholicism relevant again. AP PHOTO

VATICAN CI, Holy See—Catholic cardinals had a final day of jockeying for position on Monday before shutting themselves into the Sistine Chapel to elect a new pope after Benedict XVI’s shock resignation, with an Italian and a Brazilian who both head powerful archdioceses among the top contenders.

The cardinals held their last pre-conclave talks where they have been debating the challenges that the next pope will face and vetting possible candidates for the post.

Vatican insiders put Milan Archbishop Angelo Scola in the lead, but without the support of two-thirds of the 115 “cardinal electors” needed to become the new leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.

Brazilian Odilo Scherer, the charismatic archbishop of Sao Paolo and Latin America’s best hope, is also seen as in with a chance after the red-frocked cardinals begin the storied process, cloaked in secrecy, of choosing one of their peers to lead the Church.

The electors must take a solemn oath of secrecy or face excommunication — though no examples of such a fate appear in the record, and Vatican journalists have shown a wily knack for extracting insider information.

Vatican staff members who will work around the conclave from Tuesday were also due to take the same oath later on Monday.

In churches across Rome on Sunday, many of the hopefuls celebrated mass during which they prayed for the divine guidance that is traditionally sought in making their choice.

US Cardinal Sean O’Malley said in his homily that the Catholic world was “united in prayer” as the clock ticked down to the conclave starting Tuesday.

“Let us pray that the Holy Spirit enables the Church to choose a new pope who will confirm us in our faith and make more visible the love of the Good Shepherd,” O’Malley told parishioners in Santa Maria della Vittoria church.

The cardinals — all 115 of whom were appointed by Benedict or his predecessor John Paul II — will again invoke God’s guidance as they process solemnly into the Sistine Chapel, which will be swept for listening devices to keep would-be spies at bay.

Their task is to find a pope — the 266th — strong enough to grapple with the challenges assailing the Catholic Church that proved too much for 85-year-old Benedict.

His resignation — the first for 700 years — has focused attention on the need to find a leader with the energy to shape the Church’s approach to growing secularism in the West and the Islamic radicalism spreading to many parts of the globe.

Cardinals have expressed a desire for a more vigorous, pastoral figure to deal with the relentless scandals over sexual abuse by paedophile priests and cover-ups by superiors that have rocked the Catholic Church.

“Critics would say the most important piece of unfinished business” is cracking down on bishops who protect paedophile priests, said Vatican expert John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter.

“The Vatican now has tough policies against priests who abuse, but it does not have equally tough policies for bishops,” Allen told AFP.

The cardinals also want a man who can reform the Roman Curia, the central government of the Catholic Church, which has been beset by the intrigue laid bare in documents leaked by Benedict’s butler last year.

While Canadian Marc Ouellet has attracted attention as the powerful prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, Scola was greeted by a mass of photographers and cameramen when he celebrated mass in the Church of the Twelve Holy Apostles on Sunday.

Scola, 71, a hardliner cut from the same cloth as Benedict, the German-born arch-conservative Joseph Ratzinger, has the advantage of not being associated with the tarnished Vatican bureaucracy.

The conclave, named after the Latin phrase meaning “with key”, comes eight centuries after the first lock-in, when cardinals who had dithered over their choice for nearly three years were given just bread and water until they finally made up their minds.

Another leading contender, according to Italian media, is American prelate Timothy Dolan — even though the cardinal told one interviewer that anyone mentioning him as a candidate must be “smoking marijuana”.

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  • Rene V

    Catholics such as me and most of us are in search of a Pope who can connect with us both Physically and Spiritually. We search for a recharge of our Faith and Trust for the Almighty. as mortals, we realize our weaknesses and mortality that we pray for the grace to be better than our frailties and weaknesses. We humbly trust that the Almighty grant us a Leader for Our challenging Times…

    • Diepor

      Bla,bla,bla. Try to comment in a normal language your holyness.

      • Rene V

        somehow i don’t think i should be called that title and your spelling is wrong, too.

      • Diepor

        Then why do you talk like a priest.

      • UrHONOR

        IKAW naman….ano pa kundi ang magpaskilab,  magpakwela, at magpasikat na IN-THE-KNOW sila at “concerned” individuals sa pag-si-siklot-siklot ng mga pangyayari sa TNL ng samahang yan na gawa-gawa lamang ng tao para sa ikauunlad ng kanilang mga pwesto, poder, at kayamanan.  Tinutularan lamang nila kaisipan ng mga damasing para may ipakita si na may alam sila at up to-to-date sa mga pangyayari sa samahang punong-puno ng mga dissatisfied at disgruntled na damasings.!

      • Diepor

        May Odin be with you

  • disqus_EWrSdjV1nv

    we have a pope, based on what syndicated money can buy.

    so, how much?

  • Hey_Dudes

    It could have been swift, easy and less costly if these cardinals did not have to go through a litany of old tradition.  Imagine they even have a chimney that will signal if they have voted for a pope or not?  White smoke versus black smoke.  I supposed these cardinals do not believe in simply mailing in their votes they need to be in a conclave.  Funny if they are not calling themselves conference – it is conclave? Maraming palabas and all of it costing money.  Siguradong madadalas na naman ang pasahan ng collection baskets.

  • Knight7

    The Papal conclave should be very interesting. It looks like the top two candidates are Scola (Italy) and Scherer (Brazil). The reform faction of Cardinals is looking for Scola to lead them while the Curia faction of Cardinals wants Scherer to be Pope.
    Look for the first few days of the conclave to be a battle between the top two guys. Scola has a solid bloc of votes in Europe. But it also appears that some American and Asian Cardinals are supporting Scola. If this is true we could have white smoke by the end of the second day. Scherer has solid support from the Curia wing of Cardinals. Scherer supporters are looking to get strong support during the first few votes, in hopes that other Cardinals will jump on the band wagon at the close of the second day of voting.
    Cardinal Ouellet (Canada) and Erdo (Hungary) are said to be the compromise candidates to become Pope. If things aren’t settled beteween Scola and Scherer after the third day of the conclave, then look for Ouellet or Erdo to emerge as strong contenders from the fourth day on.
    My gut tells me that Scola has enough votes to become Pope, and this should happen by the end of the second day or start of the third day of voting. But if things drag out longer, we will certainly see a compromise Pope like Ouellet or Erdo emerge.

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