Cardinal says selecting new Pope is 'a great responsibility'

Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan of Mexico, who participated in the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI, stressed the great responsibility undertaken by the cardinals who will choose the next Pope.

In an interview with CNA on Feb. 21, Cardinal Lozano Barragan explained that participating in a conclave is "a very beautiful experience," but because of the responsibility it entails, it is "not at all desirable."

"First of all it means being responsible before God and then before the entire world," he said, noting that it is "no small thing" to choose someone with the "ability to be the center of unity and strength for the 1.2 billion Catholics throughout the world."

During the conclaves, he explained, the cardinals become instruments of the Holy Spirit to elect a new Pope, and therefore, "they have to be up to the task."

Cardinal Lozano turned 80 in January and is therefore not eligible to vote in the upcoming conclave in March. However, he recalled his experience during the 2005 conclave, saying that the cardinals believed Cardinal Ratzinger to be the man most suited to be Pope.

"I think that with the help of the Holy Spirit we were not wrong," he said.

Cardinal Lozano worked for years at the Vatican as president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care, and he has known Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI for 32 years. He served as special secretary to Benedict – who was simply known as Cardinal Ratzinger at the time – for a little over a year doing work for the 1980 Synod of Bishops on the family.

In addition, he said that then-Cardinal Ratzinger was the first to congratulate him when he was made a cardinal by Blessed John Paul II in 2003.

The Mexican cardinal recalled his close friendship with Benedict XVI and said that when he was elected Pope, "I wanted to kneel down to greet him according to protocol but he wouldn't let me. He said, 'We have known each other for 25 years.'"

Cardinal Lozano said that Benedict XVI was a Pope with a deep understanding of our times. 

"He was not a static Pope, he was a Pope who always looked to future," the cardinal explained.

In resigning from the papacy, he added, Benedict XVI showed "great sincerity" and was an example for many.

"I am sure that he will continue to sustain the Church with his prayers and his study," Cardinal Lozano said.

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