Cardinals eye pope to tackle bureaucracy
AFPVATICAN CITY--The next pope's ideal profile began to take shape on Tuesday as cardinals held a second day of preconclave talks — a man with pastoral experience, missionary energy and few ties to the Vatican's unruly government.
March 6, 2013, 12:34 am TWN
Cardinals waved cheerfully to journalists at the gates of the Vatican but declined to divulge details of the closed-door debate on who among them could be the best candidate for the papacy following Benedict XVI's sudden resignation.
Vatican experts say one of the hot-button issues now uniting many of the cardinals is the need to choose a new leader for the world's 1.2 billion Catholics capable of putting his stamp on the Roman Curia, the central government of the Church.
Secret papal documents leaked to the press last year alleged corruption and intrigue in the Vatican administration and unearthed infighting which many hope the new pope will tackle.
“What began as a trickle has become a torrent in the last 24 hours of cardinals insisting that the number one issue is governance,” said expert John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter.
This might mean choosing someone who has no previous ties to the opaque Vatican bureaucracy, such as Italian Angelo Scola, who could appeal because “he knows the lay of the land but has never been a Vatican official,” Allen said.
He also has much more extensive pastoral experience than Jospeh Ratzinger did before he became pope — but so does Brazilian Odilo Scherer, “an old Vatican hand (who) brings together concrete pastoral experience and strong governor skills,” Allen said.
The “winning ticket” according to many watchers would be a pope with strong pastoral skills — such as the popular Luis Antonio Tagle from the Philippines or South African Wilfrid Napier — whose right-hand man, the Secretary of State, could be Italian.
Also on Tuesday, the Sistine Chapel was shut down ahead of the upcoming conclave to elect a new pope even though the date for the meeting is still not known.
Visitors will not be able to gaze up at Michelangelo's famous frescoes but other parts of the Vatican like the Borgia apartment or the priceless collection of religious art remain open.
The chapel will reopen after the pope's election.
The Apostolic Constitution, which sets the rules for conclaves, states that only cardinals meeting in a “general congregation” can order the Sistine Chapel's temporary closure to prepare for conclave.
A total of 115 “cardinal electors” — cardinals below the threshold age of 80 — are set to meet in the chapel to elect a new pope having sworn an oath of secrecy on pain of excommunication.
The conclave is set to start next week and the Vatican has said it expects a new pope in place by Easter, an important date in the Christian calendar which this year falls on March 31.
A special stove will be installed in the chapel to burn the cardinals' ballots following two daily rounds of voting — if the smoke is white, that means that a new pope has been elected.
The cardinals' preconclave meetings began on Monday and are expected to last much of the week.