Cardinals say will not be rushed into electing new pope

Tue Mar 5, 2013 2:25pm EST
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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Catholic cardinals said on Tuesday they wanted time to get to know each before choosing the next pope and meanwhile would seek more information on a secret report on alleged corruption in the Vatican.

Nearly 150 cardinals held a second day of preliminary meetings, known as "general congregations", to sketch a profile for the next pope following the shock abdication of Pope Benedict last month.

Under Church law they have until March 20 to start a conclave to choose a new pope from among 115 of them who are under the age of 80, but they can decide to start it earlier.

While many observers had expected the conclave to begin as early as this Sunday, there have been increasing indications that the cardinals may need more time to ponder who among them might be best to lead a church beset by crises.

"Many cardinals are concerned that if there is not enough time spent in the general congregations that once we get into the conclave it could drag on," Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley said.

"I think the preference would be to have enough discussions previous that when people go to the conclave they already have a sort of pretty good idea of who they are going to vote for at that point," he told a news conference.

The preliminary meetings are taking place as the crisis involving sexual abuse of children by priests and inappropriate behavior among adult clerics continues to haunt the church and has rarely been out of the headlines.

One elector - Cardinal Keith O'Brien - quit as Edinburgh archbishop last week and pulled out of attending the conclave because of accusations that he behaved inappropriately with priests and seminarians in the past.   Continued...

Mexican Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez arrives for a meeting at the Synod Hall in the Vatican March 4, 2013. REUTERS/Max Rossi