On Thursday, February 28, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI vacated the papacy. According to Church rules:
"When the Roman See is vacant, or completely impeded, no innovation is to be made in the
governance of the universal Church."
In his resignation, the Pope referred to his health issues and opened the door for the College of Cardinals to put in
place a younger man. Traditionally, papal successors have not been clones of the predecessor, as witnessed by
Pope John Paul II.
The College of Cardinals (members under 80 years old) will convene sometime within the next weeks to name a successor. Pope Benedict XVI could have some influence in the voting since he has appointed many of the
younger members. The Conclave could vote on the basis of familiarity with Church Administration and select
Angelo Cardinal Sodano, Patriarch of Venice (at 85) or Angelo Scola at (71). Other youthful members of the
College of Cardinals include Josip Cardinal Bozanic of Zagreb (at 63), Oscar Andres Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiega
of Tegucigalpa ( at 70), Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York ( at 61) or Marc Cardinal Ouellet (at 68) of Canada.
Another possibility is in the selection of Christoph Schönborn (at 68) , Archbishop of Vienna, a plausible European
candidate and proponent of the New Evangelization as is Marc Cardinal Ouellet and others.
The Conclave could focus on an American candidate; such as, Timothy Cardinal Dolan (age 63) with experience
in important pastoral issues in both rural and inner city America. If an American choice cannot emerge in the
Conclave, then the assembly could select a candidate like Marc Cardinal Ouellet of Canada or Oscar Andres Cardinal
Rodriguez Maradiega of Tegucigalpa.
The Conclave could select a cardinal from Africa as it did with Pope St. Miltiades or
Pope St. Gelasius centuries ago. Francis Cardinal Arinze (age 80) is a member of the
College of Cardinals from Africa. He has considerable familiarity with issues of the sacraments; however,
his advancing age could become a factor. Clearly, the Conclave must consider age as an issue because
stability and continuity of the Church is important during these times. In addition, some good candidates have
declined to be considered further for the papacy; such as, Giovanni Cardinal Columbo, Archbishop of Milan
in October, 1978. Just after his declination to be considered further, Karol Wojtyła was elevated to the papacy
and became Pope John Paul II.
Within the next few weeks, the Conclave will convene again as it did in 2005 and 1978. If past history
is any indication, the new pope will have some prominent distinguishing characteristics from the previous one.
Credits: First Published on Blogcritics and now amended and updated thru March 5, 2013
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