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Countdown to the Conclave, Day 11: Will the Cardinals Elect a 'Reformer' Pope?

By Deal W. Hudson & Deacon Keith Fournier
March 10th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The reform coalition was in no hurry to get the conclave underway or to hold an initial vote. With every day that passes the likelihood of any candidate receiving at least 77 of the 115 votes in the first round of balloting becomes less likely.

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - ABC News has published a very thoughtful piece by David Wright and David Dolak accurately describing how "sides" are forming among the cardinals prior to the conclave.

The Italian cardinals, who hold the most votes, got what they wanted -- an early convening of the conclave, beginning next Tuesday, March 11, and now hope for a quick vote. ABC speculates such a vote would favor their prime candidate: Cardinal Odilo Scherer, Archbishop of Sao Paolo.

The Italian prelates, historically, are used to having the most influence in the selection of the pope, but this time around a coalition of cardinals has emerged who would like to "shake things up" and elect a "reformer, namely, someone who would address the conditions that led to the various scandals, from cover-ups of priestly pedophilia to the "Vatileaks."

The cardinals from the U.S. are among this coalition, reflecting the urgency they feel about rebuilding the credibility and authority of the Church. The kind of style they want from the new pontiff, the 266th, was evident in their decision to hold the daily press conferences that got them into hot water with Vatican officials because of subsequent leaks to La Stampa. 

As we previously reported, U.S. cardinals were forced to cancel their daily press briefings even though it was not proven that the newspaper leaks were connected to them.

The reform coalition was in no hurry to get the conclave underway or to hold an initial vote, With every day that passes the likelihood of any candidate receiving at least 77 of the 115 votes in the first round of balloting becomes less likely.

Even though first vote will take place Tuesday night, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C. told the La Stampa: "The conclave will not be short." Coming from a cardinal as diplomatic as Cardinal Wuerl, we would say that his comment is an accurate indicator of a serious division among the cardinals about their favorite candidates.

Returning to issues of the conclave's secrecy we reported on a few days ago,CNN is reporting there will be an electronic shield put up around the conclave to prevent the use of mobile phones and other devices that might allow communication with the outside world.

But the problem is those who want to listen in from the outside: As the pre-conclave meetings continue there is always the possibility of someone successfully penetrating any firewall erected to keep the world out.

Already more than 100 cardinals have had the opportunity to speak on issues from bioethics and interreligious dialogue to justice and the need for greater evangelism. No doubt by the first meeting of the conclave on Tuesday all 115 voting cardinals will have had a chance to speak.

During Friday's meeting, the cardinals were made aware of a web site entitled "adopt a cardinal," where 220,000 people have logged on to pray for one of the 115 voting cardinals. We both wonder how cardinals feel about being "adopted," though we are both certain they are grateful for the prayers.

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