Reports on the Conclave of Cardinals from Chicago

Pope Search: Cardinals To Focus On Character Over Age

Chicago's cardinal says “we aren’t there yet” when It comes to selecting the next pope

By Mary Ann Ahern
|  Tuesday, Mar 5, 2013  |  Updated 11:27 AM CDT
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Pope Search: Cardinals To Focus On Character Over Age

Chicago's Cardinal Francis George talks with Pope Benedict XVI on the pope's last day.

Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George said the focus on the next pope is on “character,” noting “age and geography” are secondary.

George appeared on CBS News this morning and said “we aren’t there yet” when It comes to closing in on selecting the next pope. With so much emphasis on when the conclave will begin, American cardinals were asked for more insight. 

“If the electors aren’t all here, why bring it up?” Houston’s Cardinal Daniel DiNardo said at a news briefing. Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley agreed, noting “we must wait for a number of electors” to arrive.  

“It takes as long as it takes,” DiNardo said. 

“It is good to hear from a number of cardinals over 80 years of age," he said. "They have an interesting view to bring into our discussions.” Those over 80 will not vote in the selection for the new pope.   

There is still urgency, according to DiNardo, for the cardinals to get home before Holy Week begins March 24.

These pre-conclave meetings are so important because they offer a chance to size up the candidates. At every opportunity there are discussions underway. “At the coffee break, additional conversations go on” DiNardo said. 

When asked why five cardinals have yet to arrive, DiNardo said his "suspicion is everyone has made a good effort; there are issues with one or another.”

O’Malley has been mentioned as “papabile” or one who might become pope. He was asked Tuesday if he would continue to wear his brown cassock and sandals if elected.

“I wore this uniform for 40 years and I expect to wear it until I’m gone," he said. "I don’t expect to be elected pope.”   

That led to a question to DiNardo being asked if he’d wear a cowboy hat if he were elected. “That’s in Alice in Wonderland,” DiNardo replied.   

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