Catholic Cardinals Set Vote for New Pope on April 18

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 6, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Cardinals Set Vote for New Pope on April 18

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 6
, 2005

The Vatican ( — The College of Cardinals has set a date on which they will meet to select a new pope to replace Pope John Paul II. They chose April 18 to officially begin the conclave, a secret ballot process involving 117 Catholic cardinals that will result in a new pope.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said that the cardinals read the Pope’s last spiritual testament on Wednesday before setting the date for the vote.

He indicated the cardinals would celebrate Mass on the Monday morning of the vote though they will not seclude themselves in the Sistine Chapel until the voting process is completed as has been tradition.

The cardinals will vote twice a day until a new pope is selected. John Paul’s successor must be chosen on a two-thirds ballot and if no one emerges after two weeks, the cardinals can vote for a new pope on a majority ballot.

Although 117 cardinals below the age of 80 are allowed to vote under the guidelines set forth by Pope John Paul II, only 116 will attend. The Philippines Embassy to the Holy See confirmed to the Associated Press that Cardinal Jaime Sin, long regarded as a leading pro-life figure in the Catholic nation, will be unable to attend.

No single cardinal has emerged as a top candidate to replace John Paul, but the cardinals appear to be strongly united on following the outspokenly pro-life pope with someone of similar views.

"Perhaps the best way to sum it up: we need another John Paul," Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of South Africa told Reuters Wednesday.

Leading Catholic figures who could be tapped as the next Pope include Cardinal Francis Arinze, a Vatican-based Nigerian, and Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes.

Arinze, who shares John Paul’s pro-life views on abortion and other issues, is touted by conservative Catholics. If named, he would be the first black pope.

Hummes would also likely keep the Catholic church on its strongly pro-life path as the Brazilian Catholic Church has waged a strong effort to oppose abortion and stop the expansion of embryonic stem cell research.

Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodiguez Maradiaga of Honduras is another possible candidate.

Other possibilities include Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, the archbishop of Milan, considered a moderate; Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice; Giovanni Battista Re, an Italian who served as president of the Vatican commission for Latin America; Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the archbishop of Vienna; and Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels.

Some have suggested the Catholic Church turn to a non European as the next leader and look to Catholics from Africa or South America. Pope John Paul II was the first non Italian elected as pope in 455 years, and he was born in Poland.

Father David O’Connell, President of Catholic University in Washington, told Voice of America that the Pope leaves behind a pro-life legacy in which he reasserted the moral values the Catholic Church holds dear.

"His talking about abortion reflects his consistent belief and conviction and the consistent belief of the Catholic church in the sacredness of human life and every human life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death," Father O’Connell said.

"And he was unwavering in his speaking about that, writing about that, and dealing with that issue within our world," Father O’Connell explained.