Cardinal plan to ask the next pope to pledge in his inaugural address that he will serve until his death, unlike Benedict XVI, whose resignation, they believe, has destabilized the Catholic Church.
Doubts have emerged about the impact of Benedict’s decision as the cardinals begin a series of meetings, known as general congregations, to discuss the church’s future.
It reports suggest some church leaders believe Benedict’s departure has undermined the sacredness of the office. An unnamed cardinal told the Corriere della Sera newspaper it was impossible to abolish the rule that a pope had the right to resign of his own freewill. “But for the future we need to safeguard the freedom of the church from external influences,” he said, amid fears that a pope could be pressured into stepping down.
On Friday, Benedict said he was “not abandoning the Cross, I am staying in a new way”. This was seen as a response to Polish cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, a former personal secretary to Pope John Paul II, who said of his resignation: “One doesn’t step down from the Cross.”
The cardinals are expected to focus on the spiritual mission many see as the priority for the next pope, bringing Christ’s message to the secular West and developing countries where the number of Catholics is growing.