The list of qualifications for the new pope to succeed Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI keeps getting longer. Besides requiring the incoming pontiff to agree not to resign, U.S. Cardinal Francis George proposed a zero tolerance for sex abuse as one of the qualities to look for in the new head of the Roman Catholic Church.
Reuters New Cardinal George Alencherry (R) of India talks with Cardinal Timothy Dolan (R) of the U.S. during a consistory ceremony in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican February 18, 2012. Pope Benedict XVI installed 22 new Roman Catholic cardinals from around the world on Saturday.
The proposal came out Monday in the pre-conclave gathering of the 115 cardinals who will vote on the next pope. It came out on the same day that the 116 cardinal who decided to back out of the conclave admitted sexual misconduct.
"He obviously has to accept the universal code of the church now, which is zero tolerance for anyone who has abused a child . . . There's a deep-seated conviction, certainly on the part of anyone who has been a pastor that his has to be continually addressed," The New York Times quoted the cardinal.
Here are more of the cardinal's thoughts on papal qualifications in this video.
One of the last acts of the Pope Emeritus was to force the resignation of Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien who was accused of improper behaviour toward three Scottish priests and one ex-priest in the 1980s. Cardinal O'Brien had admitted to the misconduct and apologised for his behaviour.
Cardinal George pointed out that while American Catholic Church leaders have initiated efforts that led to a sharp cut in reported sexual abuse cases, the victims are still struggling with what happened to them. "The wound is still deep in their hearts, and as long as it's with them it will be with us. The pope has to keep this in mind," he added.
Other suggestions for qualities that the new pope must have include being prayerful and can transmit the Catholic message, someone capable of reforming the Vatican bureaucracy hit by corruption accusations, preferably from the third world and one with strong governing hands.
The last requirement is an aftermath of the papal butler stealing the pontiff's papers and leading them to a journalist. The documents revealed petty politics, turf wars and charges of corruption, nepotism and favouritism in the Holy See. Pope Benedict then later pardoned the butler.
However, the biggest concern of the Vatican is to address the sex abuse problem which refuses to go away. Cardinal O'Brien reportedly has left Scotland amid the furor raised by his admission. Vatican is reported to initiate an investigation on the accusations against the cardinal.
The four abuse victims of the cardinal are reportedly happy with the developments, while gay rights group in Britain also demanded another apology from the beleaguered cardinal for his "vicious and cruel language" when he commented on same-sex marriage.
Stonewall took noted "with sadness that the cardinal didn't find it in him to apologize to gay people, their families and friends for the harm his vicious and cruel language caused," said Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the gay group.
So far 101 of the cardinals below 80 years old are already in the Vatican while 12 are scheduled to arrive Tuesday or Wednesday. They are aiming to have a new pope in time for Easter Sunday celebrations on March 31.
New Cardinal George Alencherry (R) of India talks with Cardinal Timothy Dolan (R) of the U.S. during a consistory ceremony in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican February 18, 2012. Pope Benedict XVI installed 22 new Roman Catholic cardinals from around the world on Saturday.