Knoxville Roman Catholic cardinal to help select new pope

Knoxville Roman Catholic cardinal to help select new pope

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Pope Benedict made a surprise announcement of his resignation Monday at the Vatican, saying his last day will be February 28. Pope Benedict made a surprise announcement of his resignation Monday at the Vatican, saying his last day will be February 28.
Roman Catholics attending mass Monday in Knoxville said they were trying to absorb the news of the resignation. Roman Catholics attending mass Monday in Knoxville said they were trying to absorb the news of the resignation.
Cardinal Rigali says he is not sure when the process of selecting a new pope will begin. Cardinal Rigali says he is not sure when the process of selecting a new pope will begin.

By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A Knoxville resident has a unique and weighty decision to make. He will be one of 116 Roman Catholics cardinals from around the world who will vote to select a successor to Pope Benedict XVI.

Pope Benedict made a surprise announcement of his resignation Monday at the Vatican, saying his last day will be February 28.

The pope is the first leader of the Roman Catholic Church to resign in 600 years.

Cardinal Justin Rigali will leave Knoxville in a few days to join other members of the College of Cardinals. It is their responsibility to elect a new pope.

Cardinal Rigali says the pope must have put great thought into a decision of this magnitude.

"Every single time I've dealt with him, his mind is so clear," said Cardinal Rigali.

Cardinal Rigali says he is not sure when the process of selecting a new pope will begin.

The cardinals normally vote almost immediately after a pope's death, but that does not apply in this case.

"They enter into the Sistine Chapel and they have meetings everyday, in the morning and the afternoon, until a new pope is elected," said Cardinal Rigali.

As to the traits a candidate for pope should possess, Cardinal Rigali says he needs experience and understanding. He should also be able to speak multiple languages, considering he is the leader of the entire Roman Catholic Church, spread across the world.

"You know by intuition what you need and then you try and get the man that has the best combination possible, but is still remaining human, so you're not going to get anybody perfect," said Cardinal Rigali.

The election by the College of Cardinals is done by secret ballot.

Cardinals disguise their handwriting and write down the name of their selection on a ballot card.

The new pope must receive two-thirds of the vote.

The United States will have a big say in who is elected. There are 11 American cardinals, which is the second highest number from any country in the world.

Roman Catholics attending mass Monday in Knoxville said they were trying to absorb the news of the resignation.

The role of pope is traditionally a lifelong position, so many said the move is all but unheard of.

"So different for all of us who wouldn't expect anything like this. We expect him to be there for the rest of his life," said Louis Rankin of Knoxville, a lifelong member of Immaculate Conception Church in downtown Knoxville.

"If he can't do that job, that's big of him to say, 'I need someone to do this job because it is important,'" said Susan Unbehaun, of Knoxville.

The bishop of the Diocese of Knoxville says Pope Benedict has been highly respected since his election in 2005.

"From his first days as pope to this present time, the Holy Father has led the Catholic Church with a spirit of true humility and of grace," said Bishop Richard F. Stika. "But he has done that also with the knowledge that he is the recipient of the daily prayers of over one billion Roman Catholics."

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