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Rome

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

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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."

An anti-resignation pact? An over-80 pope?

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Back in 2004, a veteran Italian Vatican writer published a front-page piece predicting the end of the Lefebvrist schism in conjunction with the celebration of a Latin Mass at Rome’s St. Mary Major Basilica. When it didn’t happen, I jokingly asked him what had gone wrong.

His answer was lapidary: In giornalismo, ogni tanto si deve rischiare, which, loosely translated, means, “In journalism, every now and then you’ve got to take a shot.”

Scenes from a papal resignation

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At 8 p.m Thursday, the reign of the 265th Pope, the 264th successor of St. Peter, came to an end, having lasted 7 years, 10 months, and 9 days.

As Pope Benedict XVI left the Vatican for the last time as the reigning pontiff three hours earlier, pilgrims and admirers came to St. Peter's Square to see his white helicopter fly away.

As jumbo-tron screens showed the final moments -- Benedict saying goodbye to the Roman curia, then waving to the crowd one last time before entering the helicopter -- many could be seen wiping away tears.

Cardinals do it too: A, B and C lists

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Cardinals Sean O'Malley of Boston, Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and Francis George of Chicago met the press for a half-hour at the North American College, home to American seminarians in Rome.

There wasn't much hard news out of the session, though it was interesting to hear each man speak briefly about how he plans to go about preparing for the papal election.

One interesting comment on that score came from George. In effect, he said the cardinals don't go about things all that differently than those of us who get paid to handicap papal candidates for a living.

Benedict's final theologian quote

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Assuming tonight’s brief salute by Benedict XVI from his balcony at Castel Gandolfo isn’t really a substantive address, he likely delivered the last public remarks of his life this morning in which he'll quote a Catholic theologian.

If so, Benedict went out on a characteristic note, citing the modern thinker who’s had the greatest imprint on his own thinking –- Romano Guardini.

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