By Lime Blake
International preliminary meetings at the Vatican with Roman Catholic cardinals took place Monday morning in preparation for the upcoming papal conclave after the sudden resignation of Pope Benedict XVI last month.
Reuters reported that the Vatican plans to have a new pope elected and installed within the coming two weeks. The Vatican’s aim is to have a new leader for Roman Catholics ready to preside over Holy Week ceremonies and Easter, starting March 24 with Palm Sunday.
The Toronto Sun reported that of the issues discussed during Monday’s meetings, the 150 Cardinals addressed many difficult challenges that must be met by the next pontiff, including last year’s “Vatileaks” scandal which unearthed a revelation of corruption and rivalries within the Vatican, as well as the sexual abuse crisis that has “rocked the Church”, the Sun reported.
Former Archbishop of Westminster in London Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor told BBC Radio that the topics discussed within the general congregation meetings are what’s needed in order to ascertain a best-qualified candidate for next week’s conclave.
“We need a man of governance, by that I mean a man who is able, with the people he chooses, to help him in an intimate way to govern the Church,” Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor said to BBC.
According to the Reuters report, these preliminary meetings also serve another purpose.
Cardinals are given the chance to evaluate the potential papal candidates based on evaluations during debates, as well as discreet meetings with other cardinals in order to inquire about necessary credentials and any possible skeletons candidates may have in their closets.
The CBC reported that while there are no current front runners for the conclave, Quebec’s Cardinal Marc Ouellet appeared on a list of high contenders for the papal succession over Benedict (Now titled Pope Emeritus).
“I have to be ready even if I think that probably others could do it better,” Ouellet told the CBC in an exclusive interview late Sunday. The interview was reported to be Ouellet’s only English-based media request, granted to the CBC over 120 over potential interviews.
The report said that Ouellet’s current role at the Vatican is to oversee the appointment of new bishops. He also is a member of several committees and commissions that are Roman Catholic-based.
Other leading candidates include Peter Turkson of Ghana, Leonardo Sandri of Argentina, Christoph Schoenborn of Austria, Odilo Scherer of Brazil, and Angelo Scola of Italy.
Ouellet is one of three Canadian cardinals presiding at the Vatican for next week’s conclave, with Toronto’s Cardinal Thomas Collins, and Quebec’s Jean-Claude Turcotte.
The selection of a Canadian of pontiff would serve as an unprecedented event, as the honour has always gone to a European cardinal in the past, CBC reported.