Spanish ambassador to Holy See voices support amid papal transition

Spain's ambassador to the Holy See, Eduardo Gutierrez Saenz de Buruaga, said after meeting with the Spanish cardinals that they are "very hopeful" as they approach the upcoming conclave.

While the papal election has no clear favorite to be the next Pontiff, Ambassador Gutierrez told Spanish television on March 1, the cardinals "intend to find a successor to Benedict XVI as smoothly and as quickly as possible."

"They don't want to rush but they are aware that it should not go on for too long," he explained.

Regarding the chances that a Spanish cardinal would be elected to the papacy, Gutierrez said the conclaves "are open" and that "all cardinals who meet the requirements to be Pope under Canon Law have a chance." 

"I think there is always a chance," he said.

The ambassador said the Spanish government will be following the conclave with "enormous interest." However, he added, the election of the successor to Benedict XVI is "an internal affair" of the Holy See, which is an independent international entity, and therefore must be free of "interference" by other countries.

The Spanish government is very conscious of the religious nature of this process and of Spain's Catholic majority, he explained. "The Rajoy government is very aware of this fact and approaches it with great sensitivity."

"It's not easy to be Pope in the 21st century, the age of globalization and of the international economic crisis," Gutierrez continued. 

He said that Pope emeritus Benedict XVI "offered answers to the crisis from a transcendent point of view" with his three encyclicals, his books, his travels and his messages, "in which he stressed the need for the human being to be at the center of governmental policies."

The ambassador explained that in his view, Benedict XVI made the correct choice in stepping down due to his declining physical strength. 

"He adhered to Canon Law at all times" in implementing his decision, Gutierrez said, all the while maintaining "an attitude of tremendous serenity and enormous dignity."

"He even had the time to respond to his critics, to those who said he was coming down from the cross, with great wisdom," he added.

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