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What do Cardinals look for in the next Pope?

2013-03-07

BENEDICT XVI
"I want to tell you that I will continue to be very close to you in prayer, especially in the following days, so that you may be completely open to the Holy Spirit as you elect the next Pope. May the Lord show you what He wants.”

Before actually voting, the Cardinals take a vow, which says: "With Christ our Lord, who will judge me, as my witness, I hereby vote before God, for the person whom I believe should be elected.”

In fact, the vow of secrecy and all the security measures that are carried out before and during the conclave are meant to avoid any external pressures. The goal of course is for cardinals to freely elect the right person to lead the Church.

But the question is, what type of leader are the cardinals looking for?

FR. BERNARDO ESTRADA
Pontifical University of the Holy Cross
"A Shepard who can make decisions. I think that  Benedict XVI saw that with his limited strength, he couldn't make specific and big decisions for the Church. The decisions don't have to be 'traumatic' so to speak, but even so they can set a change of direction.”

In addition to this, Cardinals are also looking for a Pope who leads a strong life of prayer, since he will be the spiritual leader to more than 1 billion people.

The Papacy is perceived as a service to the Church. Promoting oneself for the job is considered counterproductive. It's said that a person who openly wants to be Pope, doesn't necessarily understand the nature of the job and the sacrifice that comes with it.

FR. BERNARDO ESTRADA
Pontifical University of the Holy Cross
"The next Pope has to follow the line of Benedict XVI, not only with his thinking but also in his teaching.  Benedict XVI is a great theologian.”

Most recently, the Church focused on the connection between faith and reason. Benedict XVI emphasized that these two notions feed off from one another. So the next Pope must further this train of thought through his teachings.

FR. BERNARDO ESTRADA
Pontifical University of the Holy Cross
"The mere fact that the Pope can resign and has resigned could influence the vote of the cardinals. They could choose the person who they believe is the best person for that very moment.”

The Pope is an international figure, who must have good communication skills, since in essence, he speaks to the world. Understanding the dynamics of the media will be key.

Benedict XVI once said that the Church itself is not of this world, but it is in this world. Since the Vatican is actually a country, its leader must also be able to manage its government and its diplomatic aspects.

CARD. JOSÉ SARAIVA MARTINS
Prefect, Emeritus of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints
"The Pope must be prepared and willing to face the fundamental problems in today's society. The challenges of our Church and of contemporary society.”

Being Pope is no easy task of course. The Pontiff must take on long grips, keep up with a rigorous schedule, meetings, speeches and religious celebrations.

Electing a Pope is taken quite seriously by the cardinals, but they say that ultimately it will be the Holy Spirit who has the final say.

 
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