Cardinal DiNardo talks about upcoming conclave to replace Pope Benedict XVI

February 20, 2013 10:00:00 PM PST
A Houstonian who could be the next pope on Thursday said he doesn't want the job.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the first cardinal from the southern US, is one of over 100 cardinals who will soon be voting for the next pope to replace Pope Benedict XVI.

Now, Cardinal DiNardo is talking about what may be the biggest decision of his life.

"What will be going through your mind when you walk in that conclave?" we asked DiNardo.

"One thing going through my mind is that I am here because Pope Benedict XVI named me a cardinal," he said.

He is among the youngest and newest cardinals of the Catholic church, elevated to that rare position just five years ago.

"I have received letters, cards and greetings from people in this archdiocese -- some of them Catholic, and some of them not even Catholic -- saying we're praying for you, we pray that the spirit will work with you so that you make a good choice," DiNardo said.

DiNardo is one of only 11 American cardinals eligible to vote.

"We're watching what happens in the modern papacy, the travel, the kind of intense workload. You need somebody in there that's going to have physical vigor I would say," he said.

But that apparently is not him.

"Would you like to be pope?" we asked.

"I wouldn't answer the question in any case, Tom. And if you want my native response it's no, I would not want that burden thrust on me," DiNardo said.

"'Cause it's a big burden?"

"Oh, it's a major burden, major burden."

What everyone is talking about is when the conclave begins. DiNardo said it could be earlier than later.

"The cardinals will already be in Rome and we will be talking with each other for those days, perhaps might mean March 10 or 11. Who knows," he said.

DiNardo flies to Rome next week and will be there when Pope Benedict steps down on Thursday.

So how close are those 11 American cardinals to each other?

"I wouldn't call us close knit. We are friends. We do speak to each other on occasion," DiNardo said. "They are all very distinctive personalities and we are good friends we can talk to each other, but I have never seen us get together and talk to each other and say we as a body will do this, it just simply hasn't happened."

DiNardo says the conclave could last several days but he really has no idea.

"Is there a candidate you feel strongly about?" we asked.

"At this point no and I have to say, Tom, even if I did feel strongly, I wouldn't be able to say much but I am still learning," he said.

He's still learning about the 117 cardinal electors, 10 of them his American colleagues.

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