Archbishop: New pope within 'a few days'

March 11, 2013 at 9:02 AM
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ROME, March 11 (UPI) -- The Catholic Church will have a pope within "a few days," predicted Archbishop of Vienna Christoph Schoenborn, a participant in the conclave that opens Tuesday.

Schoenborn said he's seen a spirit of camaraderie "I've rarely experienced" in the week before balloting begins to select a successor to Benedict XVI, who resigned last month, citing health and age, ANSA reported Monday.

"In a few days we will have the new Holy Father," Schoenborn said.

Benedict, 85, is now pope emeritus.

Last week, more than 150 cardinals participated in pre-conclave congregations -- discussions to allow them to get to know each other better and share ideas about what characteristics the next pope should have -- but only 115 will participate in the conclave because only those under age 80 are eligible to vote, ANSA said.

Monday was the last of the general congregation meetings before the conclave begins.

The next pope must win the votes of at least 77 of the cardinals taking part in the conclave, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said last week.

U.S. Cardinal Timothy Dolan evaded Roman parishioners' calls for him to succeed Benedict, telling worshipers and the rector of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Monte Mario he hoped to visit the congregation again before he returned to New York.

The 63-year-old archbishop of New York and Washington, D.C., Archbishop Donald Wuerl, 72, are the two U.S. cardinals seen as strong papal candidates.

Many parishioners cheered, "Habemus Papam!" or "We have a pope!" after Dolan finished celebrating mass.

The Latin statement is the announcement given from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica on the new pope's election.

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