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Cardinal: Picking pope like 'visiting the dentist'
Photo: DPA

Cardinal: Picking pope like 'visiting the dentist'

Published: 06 Mar 2013 15:27 GMT+01:00
Updated: 06 Mar 2013 15:27 GMT+01:00

A German cardinal on Thursday said the upcoming papal conclave to pick the next head of the Catholic Church would be as pleasant as a visit to the dentist.

Paul Josef Cordes is one of six German cardinals in Rome to choose a successor to Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned last month. But he seemed less than excited by the prospect of being sequestered with his fellow clergymen in the Vatican.

"Hopefully it will be a short conclave that will start soon," he told the Bild newspaper. "I'd compare it to a visit to the dentist – you want to get it over with fast."

Cordes said had few preconceptions heading into the deliberations at the Vatican.

"I don't really know what to expect. Everything I know about the conclave is from mediocre films," he admitted. "We'll see."

The 78-year-old also said he was still smarting from the pope's decision to step down due to his advancing age.

"The resignation of this great pope leaves a painful gap not only for me, but for many of the faithful," he said, offering details of a recent visit with the former German pope. "He was mentally very aware. But he didn't have the great vibrancy that I once knew."

Some Germans, however, seem to be dealing with losing their hold on the papacy in unusual ways. A German prankster recently irked the country's Catholic leaders by dressing up as bishop to mingle with cardinals gathering in Rome for the conclave.

The Local/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

18:05 March 6, 2013 by lucksi
"The 78-year-old also said he was still smarting from the pope"

Normally it's the altar boys that are smarting...
20:24 March 6, 2013 by Bulldawg82
Generally, going to church is like going to the dentist's office.
21:47 March 6, 2013 by wood artist
The story raises an intriguing question, and I am really interested in anybody else's views on this. Does having a Pope from your country really mean anything? Is it just bragging rights, or is there more to it than that.

I remember when the Pope came from Poland, and THAT was a big deal simply because it was pretty "in your face" to the Communists. However, I'm not sure that's typical when there isn't an attached "political statement" in the election. I suspect a Black pope, and Asian pope, or a pope from South America would have similar implications but for different reasons more directly related to the church itself.

Anybody care to weigh in on this?

wa
22:31 March 6, 2013 by Bulldawg82
wood artist:

I saw an interview (on CNN) with a retired Swiss Guard (they guard the Vatican) and he said that when John Paul was selected to become Pope that all the other popes dreaded the possibility of being picked. Apparently, no one really wants to be pope as they completely loose all privacy and freedoms. I think they will go with a South American cardinal to become pope. SA has the largest concentration of Roman Catholics and they really need to circle their wagons while they take care of some serious internal problems.
03:51 March 7, 2013 by wood artist
Thanks, @Bulldawg.

I can imagine that in many ways it is a thankless job. Although I have my own thoughts about the Church and what it has done and continues to do, I can't imagine a job with more headaches and fewer perks.

Given the distribution of Catholics world-wide, I suspect there is a lot of pressure to select a South American, but that certainly is going to ruffle some feathers with the Euro-centric traditionalists. It certainly raises some interesting questions about how the Church straddles two very different cultures. I guess we'll see.

Anybody else got some insights?

wa
12:23 March 7, 2013 by RainyDays
In the case of Pope John Paul II, it certainly mattered that a Polish Pope was elected at that point of time, during the Cold War. Add to that the historically close ties between the Catholic church and the Polish nation. The formation and the decisive impact of the Solidarnosc movement was fueled by the Pope's support, his visits to Poland in 1979, 1983 and 1987.

When Cardinal Ratzinger was elected as Pope, the German tabloid "Bild" had the headline "Wir sind Papst!", which taken as such might sound as if there had been a wave of patriotic enthusiasm, but in reality it was a mildly ironic take on the surprise that a German had become Pope. With only 30 % of the Germans being Catholic, and of those only a fraction being supporters of Ratzinger's conservative stance, which he had exerted in Rome for more than 20 years as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to the chagrin of quite a few of the German bishops, the excitement among Germans was rather subdued. Pope Benedict's demission as Pope was widely covered in the media because of the novelty of this decision and the mystery which surrounds the Roman Curia. I didn't notice the "outpouring of national pride", which The Local reported in another article. If anything, I think it was the human dimension, the inner freedom with which this Pope stepped down to become a "simple pilgrim", and the speculation about the circumstances which captered the interest. On the whole, I don't think that nationality matters in the the Catholic church, which has been and is a genuinely transnational institution. However, the Catholic church's situation is paradox today: In serious crisis in most Western developed countries, but still strong and growing in Africa, Latin America, Asia. It would give the curch a new outlook and perspective if the next Pope came from one of those parts of the world. It wouldn't necessarily mean a modernisation though, since there are traditionalists among the non-European papabiles as well.
15:13 March 7, 2013 by txjohn50
Do they give you the same painkillers in the enclave that they do at the dentist?
15:58 March 7, 2013 by Bulldawg82
@ txjohn50

LOL!! Maybe they have some strong communion wine!!!
13:22 March 9, 2013 by sszorin
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
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