(New York) — While New Yorkers root for their popular Cardinal, Timothy Michael Dolan, to get a shot as the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, a priest living in southern Germany may have some special insight as to who will get the job.
Rev. Georg Ratzinger, 89, is Pope Benedict XVI’s brother, and he thinks the papacy will stay in European hands.
“I’m certain a pope will come from the new continents,” he said, referring to emerging Catholic strongholds in Africa and Asia, “but whether it will be now, I have my doubts,” Ratzinger said. “In Europe, we have many very able people, and the Africans are still not so well known and maybe do not have the experience yet. I believe in later years, popes will come from different countries, different parts of the world. At the moment, I believe the post will remain with a European.”
Father Ratzinger was speaking from his home in Regensberg, Germany. Although very close to his brother the Pope, Ratzinger said he gave him no advice about the stunning resignation, although he said he was aware Benedict was deliberating the big decision.
Oddsmakers in Britain were giving 3 to 1 odds that Peter Cardinal Turkson of Ghana, Africa would be elected the next pope. He is 64 years old, a “good” age, and currently leads the Vatican justice and peace bureau.
Cardinals from Quebec, Canada and Milan, Italy have also emerged as frontrunners. New York’s Cardinal, Timothy Dolan, is considered a viable “long shot”, because he’s a great communicator and was selected by Benedict to address the entire College of Cardinals at a special assembly, before his elevation last February.
Considering that 62 voting cardinals are European, while 19 are Latin American, 14 North American, and 11 African, it’s not surprising the Europeans are seen as being in the driver’s seat.
We learned Tuesday the Holy Father has been preparing his retirement home for months, with ongoing renovations taking place at a monastery in the Vatican Gardens, where cloistered nuns had been living. It was also reported that Benedict had secret surgery several months ago, to fix his “pacemaker”. The Pope said in his retirement announcement on Monday that he’s felt his strength diminish in recent months and didn’t feel he could could go on with the demanding job any longer.