Vatican City

'Burning issues' mulled at Vatican general congregations

Cardinal Saraiva Martins explains how papal candidate chosen

'Burning issues' mulled at Vatican general congregations

Vatican City, March 4 - The Church "has no colour", the next pope could even be "African or Asian - there are no prejudices", and "reform and an update" is needed for the Roman Curia, like "every other institution formed by men," Portuguese Cardinal Jose' Saraiva Martins told ANSA in an interview. "It will be up to the new pope to decide" on reforms, added Saraiva Martins, 80-year-old theologian and prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Saraiva Martins was rumored to be a pope-worthy alternative at the last conclave in 2005, in case a definitive agreement could not be reached for then cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who went on to become Pope Benedict XVI. Saraiva Martins is attending the Vatican's general congregations, which began Monday in the Paolo VI Hall. Saraiva Martins explained the purpose of the general congregations is to select a papal candidate in light of major challenges facing the Church. "At the general congregations, which preside over the conclave, all the cardinals participate. The goal is to deeply examine and identify the most burning issues of the Church and of contemporary society in order to make them seen by all the members of the college of cardinals, even those who come from far away". "They are fundamental meetings for choosing the person who - according to the cardinals - is the most ideal one to confront these challenges," Saraiva Martins explained. "When this week is over - but I don't know exactly how long it will last - the real conclave for the voting will begin," Saraiva Martins explained. "The days of the congregations are certainly very intense, where - as people know - the candidate for succession is identified, where reactions are felt out, where impressions are freely exchanged by everyone," the cardinal continued. Asked what the main issues are that need to be faced, Saraiva Martins responded, "Those which John Paul II and Benedict XVI already confronted - there is always continuity. The number-one problem is the family, then youths, the problem of freedom, the problem of justice. So many of our brothers are targets of injustice". On whether the next pope will, like Benedict XVI, also push for greater transparency, the cardinal responded, "Certainly. It is clear that there is no turning back on this line, but it is the task of the next pope".

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