VATICAN CITY- Even after last week’s media blackout imposed by the Vatican, Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis chose to give an interview to Folha de S.Paolo before entering Tuesday's conclave.
Damasceno Assis confirmed that the frontrunner papabili as touted in the press -- including his compatriot, Cardinal Odilo Scherer -- do indeed enjoy strong support among the other cardinals. He predicted that the conclave will be over rather quickly, as the preparation meetings have gone very smoothly.
Relaxed and in a good mood during a sit-down on Sunday, Cardinal Damasceno Assis, 76, the archbishop of Aparecida, was the only one of the five Brazilian cardinals to give an extensive interview since the meetings began last week. He says that he is comfortable not being among those likely to become pope: “I think Cardinal Scherer might be under a lot of pressure.”
“It’s hard to say who will really get all of the votes necessary, but of those mentioned in the press, we have to admit that there is a possibility that one of these cardinals could be chosen,” he added.
The President of the Brazilian Bishops Conference, Damasceno Assis reiterated that the choice has not yet been made -- the game is still wide open: “There may be surprises. If the future pope had already been chosen, we would not need to hold a conclave.”
He said that he will reside in room 418 in the Casa Santa Marta, the residence inside the Vatican where all 115 cardinals will stay from Tuesday morning onwards. He predicted that the election of the new pope would be fast, as meetings have already clearly established the new pope’s necessary characteristics.
Even so, the cardinal brought seven days worth of clothes with him -- just in case.