Cardinal: Napier spoke to pope

2013-03-04 00:00

SOUTH Africa’s Cardinal Wilfrid Napier spoke briefly to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on his last day as the leader of the Catholic Church on Thursday.

“I used that moment to thank him for the work he has done for the church, for Africa and for South Africa in particular,” Cardinal Napier told The Witness last night from Casa Santa Narpa in Rome.

That was at an emotional meeting in which the cardinals said farewell to the Pope, who announced his resignation from the Papacy on February 11.

The previous day, Pope Benedict spoke in his last general audience and thanked those gathered for their support.

Cardinal Napier, who arrived in the Italian capital late on Wednesday, missed that, but said he heard from the other cardinals that it was “very touching and emotional”.

He said members of the public had also gathered to give the Pope an emotional send off.

“They sang and they chanted his name and they prayed for him. We the cardinals have also received a lot of support, and people have been saying they were praying for us,” he said.

On Friday, the outgoing pope boarded a helicopter and was taken to Castle Gandolfo where he will remain until the Papal Conclave to elect a new pope is concluded.

From today, the cardinals will be locked in a series of meetings until the date of the Conclave has been determined.

He added that not all of the cardinals had arrived, but all 208 have been invited. However, those over the age of 80 will not be eligible to cast a vote for the new pope. In all, 117 may vote.

“We know of two cardinals that won’t be coming because of health reasons, and another one who said he will not be coming, so, there will be 114 who are able to vote in the Conclave.”

He said there was no way of telling how long it would last.

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