Expanding the pool

Cardinal Francis Geocardinal george_4rge, Archbishop of Chicago, said yesterday that most of the cardinals are in no rush to get to the conclave, because they actually want to get it right. And thus the decision to prolong the general congregations – two of them have already been scheduled for Thursday – to think long and hard before deciding a date for the conclave.

Cardinal George could not be more candid about how the whole process is proceeding:

“Everything is going according to plan, in the sense that there is no plan: the discussions are very free. But the congregations do have some very specific rules, so real contact between cardinals takes place outside these discussions. If a colleague approaches you and asks you what you think about a potential candidate it means he and the group he leads support that individual. So you reflect on the candidate, aware that he has a certain backing. But proof of this consensus will only be given when we start to vote.”

And regarding the pool of “papabili:”

“I can tell you, without violating the oath of secrecy we are bound by in the general congregations, that the list of candidates for the papacy is getting longer rather than shorter. The names you have seen published in the newspapers make sense but we are also considering other candidates no one had discussed before.”

The list of candidates is expanding, indeed, but not as much as “Catholics United” would wish.

So:
- Yes, the conclave could take longer than expected.
- Yes, the Pope could be someone who is not in the spotlight.
- No, Sister Simone Campbell will not be Pope.