Ratzinger is frontrunner in race to become pope
13 April 2005, VATICAN CITY - Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany has emerged as a frontrunner in the race to succeed Pope John Paul II, whose tomb opened to visitors on Wednesday.
13 April 2005
VATICAN CITY - Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany has emerged as a frontrunner in the race to succeed Pope John Paul II, whose tomb opened to visitors on Wednesday.
Vatican experts say consensus is growing around the figure of the dean of the College of Cardinals, who is seen as morally close to the late pontiff.
Marco Politi, a papal watcher writing for La Repubblica, says the 77-year-old former Prefect of Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith can count on the support of at least 40 cardinals. A candidate must receive a two-thirds majority during the initial rounds of voting to be elected pope. A simple majority will suffice during later rounds.
The conclave, which begins on Monday afternoon, is expected to be attended by a total of 115 cardinal electors.
Ratzinger himself is said to be opposed to a long conclave, meaning that if consensus around his figure is not reached rapidly, he will push for an alternative candidate, possibly an Italian or a Latin American.
According to Portuguese Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, the conclave will be short.
"The Holy Spirit works rapidly," he told reporters ahead of a daily pre-conclave meeting of cardinals taking place at the Vatican.
As from Tuesday, puffs of black smoke will be emitted twice a day to signify that a pope has not yet been elected. According to the Italian news agency Ansa, the smoke is likely to be given off at 12.30pm and 7pm local time (10.30 and 17.00 GMT). The news that a pope has indeed been elected, on the other hand, will immediately be notified to the faithful through puffs of white smoke and the ringing of church bells.
Meanwhile, thousands of pilgrims formed queues outside St. Peter's Basilica to visit the tomb of John Paul II, which opened to the public on Wednesday morning. Turnout was significant, but less than expected.
The faithful were allowed to briefly stand in front of the simple marble slab bearing an inscription with his Latin name "IOANNES PAULUS PPII" and the dates of his 26-year papacy, but were not allowed to leave any flowers for fear the tomb might be submerged in floral tributes.
Subject: German news