Public considers papal candidates after Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation
Published: Monday, February 25, 2013
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 21:04
Pope Benedict XVI will retire from the papacy Thursday, the first pope to retire voluntarily from the position in 598 years.
“After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,” Benedict said, on Feb. 10 during an announcement over Vatican Radio.
Father Jim Nash, the pastor at Holy Family in Newark, said he is shocked by the pope’s decision to resign. However, he said the more he thought about it, the better he was with the decision. He said he feels Benedict’s love for the church is evident and he believes his decision was made for the good of the Catholic Church.
“Maybe he’s thinking, ‘What if I become incapacitated? What if I have a stroke and then I can’t step down?’” Nash said. “He says ‘Now’s the time,’ so I give him credit.”
Following Benedict’s departure, the College of Cardinals will convene in Vatican City in 15 to 30 days after he steps down to elect a successor, Nash said. The voting procedure is the oldest ongoing method to elect the leader of an organization.
The papal conclave, made up of the 117 members eligible to vote, is placed in seclusion in the Sistine Chapel the day after the pope steps down. On the first day of seclusion, only one vote may be held. Four ballots may be held on any succeeding days that are necessary.
If the vote manages to give one member of the college a two-thirds supermajority, the process is over and the cardinals release white smoke from the chimney of the chapel to the awaiting congregation in St. Peter’s Square. If there is no supermajority, black smoke is released and the cardinals continue to vote.
The Canadian Cardinal has been reported as the favorite to become the Pope. He is the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, the department in charge of nominating bishops, so most of the 117 cardinals eligible to vote are familiar with him. He was in the running during the last Papal elections in 2003, but he threw his support behind the eventual Pope Benedict XVI. He has suggested that he is not keen on inheriting the job, and on June 30, 2011, he jokingly told a group of reporters in Rome that to become pope “would be a nightmare.”
The Italian-descended and Argentinean-born cardinal could bridge the divide between old-world Catholicism and South America, the religion’s most rapidly growing area. At 69 years old, Sandri is both old and young enough to be seriously considered for the position. Besides a brief period with a congregation directly following his ordainment into priesthood, he has spent most of his career around the Vatican. He served as the prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, so he is sensitive to the church’s struggles in the Middle East.
The cardinal from Ghana has the potential to become the first African pope. He told the “Daily Telegraph” on Feb. 12 that if he were elected, he would try to maintain traditional Catholic values while also trying to make the church workable in a modern world. He is the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and was ordained as a cardinal in 2003.