Cardinal George: When selecting pope, must ask 'Can he govern?'


Among several questions cardinals ask when electing one of their peers as the new leader of the global Roman Catholic church, said Chicago's Cardinal Francis George, is simply: "Can he govern?"

Speaking to CNN Friday, George, who participated in the election of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, said the secret meeting of cardinals to select a new pontiff is "a very quiet time."

"You have a chance to contemplate the beginning of the world on the ceiling and the end of the world on the wall," said George, referring to the paintings of the Genesis accounts and of the Last Judgment on the walls and ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, where the conclave is held.

George said cardinals choose who to vote for by talking to peers who know those being mentioned as papal possibilities. 

“What you do…is you go to somebody who knows somebody who's being talked about and ask: ‘What’s he really like? How is his health?" said George.

Christmas-NCR-gifts-half_0.jpgGive a subscription to our award-winning newspaper and save $10.

Continuing, George said other questions include: “How is he judgment? Can he govern? Does he have a universal heart, especially for the poor? Is he just a captive of his own place or his own culture?”

The reference to governance, while somewhat opaque, may reflect that at least some of the cardinals are taking into consideration the problems that faced Pope Benedict's papacy, including allegations that church governance had not been his specialty, especially in light of the document leaks that eventually led to the trial of the pope's valet, Paolo Gabriele, in October.

In an interview Feb. 28, Australian Cardinal George Pell said that while Benedict was a "brilliant teacher," church governance "wasn't his strong point." 

A clip of CNN's interview with George follows.



Support independent reporting on important issues.

 One family graphic_2016_250x103.jpg


NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

Commenting is available during business hours, Central time, USA. Commenting is not available in the evenings, over weekends and on holidays. More details are available here. Comments are open on NCR's Facebook page.



NCR Email Alerts


In This Issue

July 14-27, 2017