Pope Discusses Catholic Church With Cardinals

Posted February 17th, 2012 at 6:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Pope Benedict has met with top Roman Catholic clergy to discuss how to strengthen the church in view of growing secularism in the Western world.

The German-born pontiff held closed-door consultations Friday with 133 prelates, including most of the 22 bishops who will be officially elevated to the status of cardinal in a ceremony Saturday.

Before the meeting, cardinals wearing black coats and red sashes gathered at the Vatican Friday morning for reflection and prayer with the pope.

The meeting comes amid reports of growing tension within the administration of the Holy See as the pope is getting older. Marco Politi, author of the book “Joseph Ratzinger, Crisis of a Papacy,” says high-placed sources in the Vatican have reported instances of corruption and a power struggle:

(( OPTIONAL SOUNDBITE Marco Politi in English) )

“There is a great discontent within in the Roman Curia, the outproducts of this discontent are back-stabbing, intrigues, anonymous letters about plots but the main thing is that Cardinal Bertone, who is the Secretary of State, was never accepted by the Curia because he was an outsider.”

Tarcisio Bertone is the Vatican's Secretary of State and Pope Benedict's closest aide. He is considered as an outsider by some circles in the Holy See because he didn't come from the Vatican's diplomatic corps. But a spokesman for the pope has dismissed reports of plots within the church.

U.S. Bishop Timothy Dolan of New York, one of the 22 cardinal-designates, says he will do all he can to help the pontiff keep the church united.

“So I see the successor of (Saint) Peter, the chief pastor of the church longing to tend to pastoral, spiritual issues. And I am sure if there is anybody frustrated about reports of internal infighting, it is he. And if I, as a new member of the college of cardinals, can help him keep the church universal and the government of the church universal, the Holy See, riveted on the issues of the gospel, I would be honored to and I would take that as one of my duties.”

Pope Benedict is hoping to revive the church through a campaign of evangelization, starting later this year. Rino Fisichella, who is heading the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, presented the Vatican's plans for a “year of faith,” which will start in October.

With the 84-year-old German pope slowing down, Saturday's ceremony is seen as an opportunity for cardinals to gain prominence with a view of becoming part of a narrower group that will select a new pope. Italian cardinals are expected to fight to regain the papacy they have not had since Pope John Paul, a Pole, took over in 1978.