Cardinals Hold First Meeting to Select New Pope to Lead Catholics

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 5, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Cardinals Hold First Meeting to Select New Pope to Lead Catholics Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 5
, 2005

The Vatican ( — Catholic Church leaders met on Tuesday to begin the process of choosing a new Pope, but failed to set a date to begin the conclave, or voting process, according to a Vatican spokesman.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the conclave has to begin 15 to 20 days following the death of Pope John Paul II’s death.

Navarro-Valls said 91 of the 183 worldwide cardinals were in Rome, but only 117 of them can vote in the conclave because John Paul limited the voting only to those cardinals under the age of 80.

Brazilian Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo told Italian state radio Tuesday that he believed a new pope would be chosen quickly.

"I don’t think it will be a long conclave,” he said. Agnelo indicated that many cardinals already have "clear ideas” about their choice for a successor.

Officials at the Vatican also said that bells will be used along with smoke to signify the decision the College of Cardinals makes about a Pope.

If they fail to select a new Pope on the first ballot, those ballots are slated to be burned with a special chemical to produce black smoke visibly seen by those on the outside. When a Pope is selected, the ballots are burned with a chemical producing white smoke.

The voting process is to remain secretive, according to a Washington Post report on the documents produced by Pope John Paul II on it.

"In order that the Cardinal electors may be protected from the indiscretion of others and from possible threats to their independence," the pope ordered, "I absolutely forbid the introduction into the place of the election, under whatsoever pretext . . . of technical instruments of any kind for the recording, reproducing or transmitting of sound, visual images or writing."

Once the voting is over, many — including some cardinals themselves — expect a Pope who is passionate about pro-life issues to be named.

Cardinal Jorge Medina of Chile told Reuters Monday that "every Pope must be a conservative," citing the John Paul’s position on key pro-life issues.

"Saint Paul told his disciples ‘conserve intact the deposit of faith.’ A conservative is one who conserves. A pope cannot be liberal in Church doctrine," said Cardinal Medina said.

Cardinal George Pell of Australia, an outspoken pro-life advocate and the country’s lone representative to the conclave, tells the Cybercast News Service that a new pope will not usher in "radical change."

"Those who want radical change realize that they had no hope while he was in charge and I hope with the next pope there’ll be a similar sense of security," he said.