Indonesian cardinal to not participate in papal election
Cardinal Julius Riyadi Darmaatmadja cites failing health for absence
Cardinal Julius Riyadi Darmaatmadja, the head of Indonesia's Catholic Church has announced that he will not participate in the election of the next pope. The 78-year-old cardinal told journalists who would net be attending due to his eyesight was failing and that he would not be able to handle reading the "texts, materials, rules, and so on" necessary for the event.
"My strength had deteriorated my ability to read weakened. Those tasks require strength, speed and agility," Cardinal Julius Riyadi Darmaatmadja said.
"I ask forgiveness from the Catholic Church of Indonesia, that I cannot represent [the country] in this very important event."
The decision brings down to 116 the number of cardinals below the age of 80 who are qualified to vote for the successor of Pope Benedict XVI. Benedict is scheduled to officially resign on February 28.
The Vatican said the pope may change rules governing the conclave that will secretly elect his successor, a decision that could fast track the meeting of cardinals in Rome.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said that Benedict was considering issuing a "Motu Proprio," a personal document, which has the force of church law, in regards to the changes.
It could mean that the conclave could start before March 15, which is currently the earliest it can begin.
The Vatican appears to be aiming to have a new pope installed before Palm Sunday on March 24 in order to preside at Holy Week services leading to Easter on March 31.
Some in the church believe that an early conclave would give an unfair advantage to cardinals already in Rome and working in the Curia, the Vatican's central administration.
"A short period before a conclave helps the curial cardinals in Rome operating on their home turf," Father Tom Reese, an expert at Georgetown University says. Reese is also the author of several books on the Vatican.
"The longer the pre-conclave period, the more time non-curial cardinals have to talk to each other and to get to know each other.
"The longer the period prior to the conclave, the less dependent outside cardinals are on the curial cardinals."
During the conclave, cardinals are not allowed to communicate in any way with the outside world, nor are they allowed to listen to radio, watch television, make phone calls or use the internet.
Benedict personally selected more than half the men who will elect his successor. The rest were chosen by the late Pope John Paul II.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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