News / Europe

Scandal Clouds Benedict's Last Days As Pontiff

Pope Benedict waves as he leads his last Sunday prayers at the Vatican on February 24, 2013.
Pope Benedict waves as he leads his last Sunday prayers at the Vatican on February 24, 2013.
VOA News
Scandal threatens to overshadow Benedict's final days as pope, as well as the preparations to choose his successor.

In one of his last acts as pontiff, Benedict Monday changed the Vatican's constitution, eliminating the 15-day waiting period before cardinals can meet to elect a new pope.

The change comes on the same day the pontiff accepted the resignation of Britain's most senior Roman Catholic cleric.  

Cardinal Keith O'Brien resigned following allegations from four current and former priests that O'Brien approached them inappropriately in the 1980s.

Cardinal O'Brien was due to retire next month, when he turns 75. He said Monday he will contest the allegations, but won't take part in the upcoming conclave to choose a new pope.
Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien speaking to the media in Edinburgh, Scotland, Sept. 16, 2010.Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien speaking to the media in Edinburgh, Scotland, Sept. 16, 2010.
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Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien speaking to the media in Edinburgh, Scotland, Sept. 16, 2010.
Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien speaking to the media in Edinburgh, Scotland, Sept. 16, 2010.

Other cardinals are also under heavy criticism. On Saturday, Catholic activists petitioned Cardinal Roger Mahony of the United States to recuse himself from the papal election so as not to insult survivors of sexual abuse committed by priests while he was archbishop of Los Angeles.

Pope biographer and Vatican analyst Marco Politi doesn't expect the furor to subside in the near future.

"Pope Ratzinger [Benedict] has began a revolution, asking [for] absolute cleanness about sex abuse," Politi says. "Although with many contradictions, this movement is going on and now it is knocking at the door of the conclave."

However, the cardinals who meet to elect Benedict's successor won't have access to the contents of a special investigation began after leaks of Vatican documents in 2012.
How the Pope is Elected

-Chosen by College of Cardinals
-Only cardinals under age 80 are allowed to vote
-They meet in Sistine Chapel for Conclave
-Voting cardinals remain in Vatican without outside contact until they select a pope
-A two-thirds-plus-one vote is required to select a pope
-Paper ballots are counted, pierced with a needle and placed on a single string
-Ballots are then burned, letting outside world know if a pope has been chosen
-Black smoke means no one has been chosen, white smoke means a pope has been selected
-Shortly after white smoke is seen, name of new pope is announced from balcony of St. Peter's Basilica
The report, conducted by three cardinals who are too old to participate in the conclave, is thought to have uncovered problems within the Vatican, possibly tied to the priest-child sex abuse scandal.

A Vatican statement said the report will only be shared with the next pope.

Benedict was elected in 2005 to replace the late John Paul II. He will become the first pontiff to step down in nearly 600 years when he leaves office February 28.

Even with the change in Vatican laws, it's not clear exactly how soon the Roman Catholic Church will begin selecting Benedict's replacement.

Many cardinals have begun informal consultations by phone.  

Some church officials hope a new pope is selected by the middle of March,  in time to preside over Holy Week services leading to Easter.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: NVO from: USA
February 25, 2013 5:27 PM
The next pope? Well lets see what the RC church has to say about that..................BUT....................................BUT..........they dont want you to know! Father Connor, you probably know him, said that the catholic church under the heading of
"sacred tradition" teaches that the final pope will defect from the faith! Now here is what Bishop Sheen said. "The false prophet will have a religion without a cross, a religion without a world to come, a religion to destroy religions.

There will be a counter church, Christs church will be one, and the false prophet will create the other. The false church will be worldly, ecumenical, and global. It will be a loose federation of churches and religions forming some type of global association. A world parliament of churches, it will be emptied of all divine content and will be the mystical body of the anti-Christ. The mystical body on earth today will have its Judas Iscariot, and he will be the false prophet. Satan will recruit him from among OUR Bishops! The false prophet will be a bishop, and like Judas, he will sell the mystical body to the anti-Christ".-

Archbishop Fulton Sheen (1950)

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