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Cardinal departs, says next pope need not be a saint

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
February 26th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Chicago Cardinal Francis George said Monday what qualifications he thinks the next pope should have. He made clear that he favors an insider as the next choice.

CHICAGO, IL (Catholic Online) - Cardinal Francis George was interviewed by the Chicago Tribune before he boarded a flight to Rome ahead of a storm. The Cardinal did not say he had a specific individual in mind but he listed some important criteria that distills down to preferring a candidate who is familiar with the Vatican and its workings.

"You're talking about governance here," George told The Tribune. "People say sanctity. Well, sanctity is nice, but there have been popes who have governed fairly well who have not been holy... What's important here is governance. Can the man govern the church as a pastor? He has to be a man who knows the Lord because he's governing in his name. But it doesn't mean he's going to be a great saint."

The comment about sainthood is curious, suggesting Cardinal George may favor an insider, or someone who is at least familiar with the inner workings of the Vatican.

George also said he would consider how much time and experience a cardinal has at the Vatican as another criteria for preference. He mentioned the relationships that cardinals form while working as integral to effective governance.

"Those are all relationships that enable you to have some insight into how they operate, a little bit about what they do and how they think," George told The Tribune.

The Tribune added, "George considers the mileage accrued between a cardinal's diocese and Rome an important credential for the papacy."

Many Catholics suspect that Benedict's resignation could be a result of poor governance, as evidenced by the myriad scandals that have rocked the Church in recent years. Those scandals include child sexual abuse, concerns over the management of the Vatican bank, and the leaking of secret documents by the Pope's own butler.

However, in contrast to George's criteria, Benedict, was a Vatican insider himself. He was close to John Paul II, and he led the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. That inside experience however, may not have led to better governance, although the matter is hotly debated by Church members.

The sacred conclave will begin no later than March 15-20 in Rome, however there is discussion about starting sooner to ensure a pope is seated before Holy Week.

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