2013 Papal Conclave: One Resigns, One Abstains to Exercise Vote

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Two days before the official resignation of its spiritual leader, the Roman Catholic secular religion continues to shock the world as the number of its eligible cardinals to vote for a new pope has narrowed down by two, from 117 to 115.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Britain's most senior Catholic clergyman, left the world open-mouthed when he declared his resignation on Monday. His resignation as Archbishop of Edinburgh and St Andrew's effectively eliminates him to participate in the anticipated papal conclave in Rome next month.

Julius Darmaatmadja, head of Indonesia's Catholic church, has given up his right to vote to choose the successor of outgoing Pope Benedict XVI on his impaired vision.

Although the camp of Cardinal O'Brien said he resigned due to his retiring age, many believed the Scottish Cardinal was pressured to go down from his post with no less than by the outgoing 265th leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, on allegations of his "inappropriate advances" to other priests. Initially tendering his resignation but with no detailed timeframe, the resigned pope was to have stamped Cardinal O'Brien's notice "with immediate effect."

Cardinal Darmaatmadja, on the other hand, said that although he can still carry the long travel to Rome to participate in the papal conclave, his poor eyesight hinders him still.

"I may look well and travel quite often, but the conclave requires me to read texts, materials and rules and no aides are allowed to assist me in the conclave," he was quoted as saying at hidupkatolik.com, an online magazine run by the Jakarta Archdiocese.

The Vatican is on a rush to install a new pope by Easter, which falls on March 31 this year.

It is still unclear if all the cardinals around the world would participate in next month's papal conclave, but the number of voting cardinals had indeed been reduced by two.

However, this may still lessen depending on the results of campaigns launched against Cardinals from the US and Ireland, still on allegations related to sex abuse.

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