Canada's Ouellet suggests others may be better for pope

Mon Mar 4, 2013 10:06pm EST
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, one of the leading candidates to succeed Pope Benedict, suggested in an interview broadcast on Monday that other candidates for pope might do a better job.

He also said it would not be surprising for the pope to come from outside Europe after that continent's long dominance of the papacy.

"There was a focus on Europe obviously for centuries, and centuries, and ... someday it is to be expected that a pope would come from Asia, would come from Africa, would come from America," he told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

"Nowadays it wouldn't be a surprise."

Ouellet, 68, is one of a handful cardinals seen as papal material, but he played down his qualifications. "I have to be ready even if I think that probably others could do it better," he said.

Ouellet, who now works in the Vatican, served as archbishop of Canada's French-speaking province of Quebec from 2002 to 2010, a fractious time where uncompromising positions from the Vatican often ran counter to the widespread secularism in Quebec.

Pope Benedict subsequently named him to the influential position of prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, which recommends the appointment of bishops to the pope.

In a separate interview with the French-language CBC, Ouellet recognized that his name does come up as a possible replacement for Benedict, who stepped down on March 1.

"I can't not think about the possibility. Reasonably, when I go into the conclave of cardinals, I have to say to myself, 'What if, what if...' It makes me reflect, it makes me pray, it makes me somewhat afraid. I am very conscious of the weight of the task," he said.   Continued...

Pope Benedict XVI (R) is greeted by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada during a meeting with seminarians outside St. Pantaleon Church in Cologne, Germany, in this August 19, 2005 file photo. REUTERS/Pier Paolo Cito/Pool/Files