Cardinals remain split in run-up to papal conclave
15 April 2005, VATICAN CITY - German cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is yet to gain a definite endorsement from the 'princes of the church' as the papal conclave nears.
15 April 2005
VATICAN CITY - German cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is yet to gain a definite endorsement from the 'princes of the church' as the papal conclave nears.
Cardinals discussed the main issues facing the Roman Catholic Church on Friday while workers installed the special chimney whose smoke will signal whether a new pope has been elected.
A total of 138 'princes of the church' attended the 11th General Congregation meeting at the Vatican, one of the last before the conclave to select a successor to John Paul II begins on Monday.
"The cardinals spent the morning exchanging their views on the problems facing the Church and the world," Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said.
Widespread disobedience to the pope's teachings on pre-marital sex and contraception, as well as an alarming shortage of priests and growing demands for greater democracy within the church, were likely some of the issues that had come up for discussion. Cardinals were using such discussions to sound each other out before deciding who to pick as their next leader.
With just three days to go before the election process gets underway, no clear candidate had yet emerged, Vatican experts said.
Frequently mentioned as possible frontrunners are Joseph Ratzinger and Dionigi Tettamanzi. The German candidate is reportedly backed by conservatives loyal to the late Karol Wojtlya, while his Italian colleague enjoys the support of the church's more liberal wing.
However, neither candidate appears to have gained a definite endorsement, particularly among their fellow nationals - who remain split ahead of the election process.
Experts say the stalemate may well be broken by a compromise candidate, possibly Lisbon Patriarch Jose da Cruz Policarpo or Christoph Schoenborn of Vienna. Alternatively, as happened during the last conclave - when they elected a little-known Polish candidate - cardinals may opt for a surprise choice, such as Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa of Chile.
Meanwhile, workers climbed on the roof of the Sistine Chapel to mount the chimney terminal from which smoke will be puffed out to signal to the world whether a pope has been elected. The chimney is positioned in such a way as not to damage the precious Michelangelo frescoes that embellish the chapel's ceiling.
All eyes will be on the chimney as of next week, with white smoke signalling that a new pope has been found while black smoke meaning that no candidate has obtained the necessary majority.
Cardinals were scheduled to meet again on Saturday, with the conclave set to begin on Monday afternoon and expected to last for several days.
A total of 115 cardinals - those under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote - were expected to take part in the election process.
Subject: German news