Maida, who stepped down in 2009 as leader of the Archdiocese of Detroit, is traveling to Rome to make his voice heard, even though his age — 82 — makes him ineligible to vote.
“I’ve gotta be there. I can’t vote. But there are a lot of other opportunities to be involved,” Maida said last week.
Maida said much of what influences the papal selection are the conversations and gatherings of cardinals that will occur between Benedict’s departure Thursday and the start of the Sistine Chapel conclave for cardinals younger than 80.
Maida said a variety of issues come up during cardinal meetings at the Vatican. “Sometimes the informal meetings are more important than the big formal ones,” he said.
For Detroit-area Catholics, having local say at the Vatican may be even more essential, as details of the latest church scandal rocks Rome.
On Friday, a well-respected Italian newspaper and magazine both reported that Benedict is resigning because of a 300-page internal report detailing an unchecked group of Vatican clerics enmeshed in blackmail, corruption and gay sex. On Saturday, the Vatican dismissed the stories as “gossip, disinformation” designed to undermine the papal transition.
“It’s the first word I’ve heard about it,” said Maida, reached Friday night. “I have no idea about anything of the things they’re talking about it.”
Cardinal Edmund Szoka, 85, who led the Detroit archdiocese through the 1980s before John Paul II appointed him to important Vatican offices, said he won’t be able to attend because of health reasons.
It’s still unclear when the conclave will begin. Benedict’s resignation takes effect Thursday — the first pope in 600 years who hasn’t left office by dying — and has raised concerns about the timing for a conclave.
Both Szoka and Maida predict that Benedict’s successor will be a traditionalist.
“I don’t think we’ll see any substantial changes,” said Maida. [More]