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NEXT POPE

'It's pretentious to say I am a candidate'

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Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, the archbishop of São Paulo - Brazil's largest diocese, with six million Catholics - is the leading Latin American contender to succeed Pope Benedict XVI. With the election of the next Pope coming closer, the Cardinal is in the limelight. In a rare meeting inside the Se Cathedral in Sao Paulo before the Ash Wednesday Mass, the Cardinal spoke to Shobhan Saxena about the election of the next Pope. Excerpts:

Can the next Pope be from outside Rome?


Yes, there is a possibility of having a Pope from Latin America, Africa or Europe. But the geographical origin of the Pope is not important. The reflections at the conclave will not be about whether the pope comes from one place or another, but whether he is the most prepared to lead the Church in this moment of its history.

Could the election process lead to a power struggle?


I don't see any power struggle. I am a cardinal and a member of the conclave, and I meet other cardinals frequently. The election is not for power but to serve the God and people of God.

Are you prepared to be the next Pope?


It would very pretentious for a cardinal to say that 'I'm prepared to be the Pope'. We prepare for it all our lives. It's others' judgement rather than the judgement of the candidates' that matters. I have never participated in a conclave before. It will be my first time. No one is going to say 'I am a candidate. '

Is modernity a challenge for the church?


The challenge is not modernity but post-modernity, a culture where there are no reference values, everything is subjective and in a state of flux. This culture has spread fast with the new techniques of communication. This is the challenge of the moment.

Is it possible that the new Pope is not orthodox?


Of course, there are many ways of dealing with the challenges. But there is no possibility of the Church renouncing its faith or defending something that is contrary to its commandments.

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