Cardinals tight-lipped about Ratzinger's chances

14th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

14 April 2005, VATICAN CITY - Cardinals remained tight-lipped about the German cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's chances of succeeding John Paul II during a pre-election meeting at the Vatican on Thursday where they discussed the future of the Roman Catholic Church.

14 April 2005

VATICAN CITY - Cardinals remained tight-lipped about the German cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's chances of succeeding John Paul II during a pre-election meeting at the Vatican on Thursday where they discussed the future of the Roman Catholic Church.

Of the 142 present, those eligible to vote were also assigned the Santa Marta hotel rooms where they will be staying during next week's conclave.

"After invoking the Holy Ghost, the cardinals listened to the first of a series of meditations centring on the problems of the Church and on the illuminated choice of a new pontiff," Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls told journalists.

Though active campaigning is technically not allowed, cardinals were thought to be using the meetings to put forward their views and to attempt to gain consensus on their candidacy.

Cardinals were remaining tight-lipped amid growing speculation that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany may be considered a frontrunner during the conclave that will determine who is to succeed John Paul II on the throne of Peter.

According to Marco Politi, a Vatican expert writing for the Rome-based daily La Repubblica, resistance has grown over the figure of Ratzinger, who will turn 78 this week and is seen as an ideal caretaker.

The dean of the College of Cardinals is said to clash with some of his German colleagues who, among other things, dislike his opposition to allowing remarried divorcees to receive communion.

Ratzinger, who was one of John Paul's closest advisors on theological issues, is also thought to be unwelcome by his North American colleagues, who would prefer a more hands-on manager after the paedophilia scandals that seriously tarnished its image across the Atlantic and whose impact John Paul is said to have underestimated.

Vatican experts say two key issues are of concern to the College of Cardinals: the role of the papacy and demands for greater democracy within the Church.

With 25 out of 115 cardinal electors coming from Latin America, much has been said about the possibility of the next pope coming from a part of the world where about half of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics live.

Experts, however, noted on Thursday that the Latin Americans appear divided and may end up agreeing on a European candidate. The European block is the biggest with 58 votes.

With just four days to go before the conclave, cardinals being tipped as possible strong contenders include Italy's Dionigi Tettamanzi and Christoph Schoenborn of Austria.

DPA

Subject: German news

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