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Cardinals Dolan & George: Church Should Be in No Rush to Elect...

TWO REPORTS: Cardinal George says the Church should be in no rush to elect pope. Cardinal Dolan of NY says he has not been informed of any plans to move up the Conclave before March 15 - jv

Cardinal George: Process to pick pope shouldn't be rushed

BYLINE: By Ryan Haggerty and Manya A. Brachear, Chicago Tribune reporters

Chicago's Cardinal Francis George said Sunday there should be no rush to convene the conclave that will elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI because the days leading up to the election are when cardinals can learn the most about the candidates.

Once the conclave begins, the cardinals will spend almost all of their time praying and casting ballots, George told reporters Sunday after celebrating Mass at St. Bride Catholic Church in Chicago.

"The most important thing is to choose well, and we'll take the time necessary to do that," said George, who plans to leave Chicago for Rome two days before the pope's resignation takes effect.

Cardinals from around the world will meet informally starting March 1 to prepare for what will be George's second papal election. He also participated in the conclave in 2005, when Benedict was elected after Pope John Paul II died.

"We will go into conclave when collectively the cardinals decide that we have (had) the conversations necessary to make a good decision," George said after Mass.
On Saturday, a Vatican spokesman suggested that the conclave could start earlier than March 15, the earliest date possible under current rules that require a 15- to 20-day window after the papacy becomes vacant. Benedict's last day is Feb. 28.

Vatican watchers point out that the window is intended to allow for travel and traditional rites in the event of a pope's death.

"The cardinals, the people by law and realistically the ones closest to the pope have that funeral to grieve. That's not an issue this time," said Rocco Palmo, the Philadelphia writer behind "Whispers in the Loggia," a website that covers the Catholic church hierarchy.

Palmo said George's inclination not to rush "speaks to the sense I've heard from some that this is going to be a longer conclave than the last one because there's no clear-cut choice the way in retrospect there was in Ratzinger."

In order for the cardinals to meet earlier, Benedict must allow for an exception to the rule before he resigns.

But the Rev. Thomas Reese, senior fellow for the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, argued that if the pope changes the rules, conspiracy theorists would claim that he favors a particular candidate.

"Let's face it. The sooner the election, the better to the advantage to whoever happens to be the front-runner at the moment," Reese said.
Predicting how long the conclave might last is impossible, George said.

"You rely upon collective discernment, so you don't go in with your mind made up," he said. "You go in with indifference of mind and heart to try to discern, 'What does God want us to do?' "

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Church should be in no rush to elect new pope, says Dolan;
Vatican says conclave may be held before mid March

(ANSA) - February 18 - The Catholic Church should be in no rush to elect a new pontiff, following Pope Benedict XVI's shock announcement last week that he is stepping down, the Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan has said.

The Vatican initially said the conclave to elect a new pope will not take place until 15 to 20 days after Benedict leaves the position on February 28, in accordance with Church rules.

But at the weekend Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the conclave may start earlier, given that the pope has not died, but has quit.
Cardinals from around the world have begun informal talks about what sort of person the next pope should be and many are already in Rome.

Some reports have suggested the Church may want to accelerate proceedings in order have a new pope installed before Palm Sunday on March 24, so he can preside at the Holy Week services leading up to Easter.

But Dolan said that the 117 cardinals who will elect the next head of the Church should have plenty of time to reflect.

"I haven't heard anything about the possibility of bringing forward the conclave, I'm waiting for instructions," Dolan, who is considered one of the cardinals who is in with a chance of becoming pope, told Turin daily La Stampa.

"I'm impatient to meet in prayer with my fellow cardinals.

"(But) we realise that patience is needed, because there are many delicate questions to address. I don't think we want to rush the conclave.

"The important thing (now) is to be here, express our love and best wishes for Pope Benedict, pray together and then make the decisions". photo: Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan

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