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‘Next pope needs wisdom and energy’

South African cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, seen as a possible successor to Pope Benedict XVI, said the Church was in a “profound crisis” and needed a new pope to implement “spiritual renewal”.

The 71-year-old also predicted March's conclave of cardinals in the Sistine Chapel would last longer than the last one which took just two days, speaking in an interview with Italian daily La Stampa published on Thursday.

South African Wilfrid Fox Napier leaves the Paul VI hall at the end of the General Congregation assembly of the Cardinals at the Vatican, 13 April 2005. Credit: AFP

“We can come out of this profound crisis with a strong spiritual renewal like the one of St Francis who implemented a moral reform,” Napier said.

Napier said he would not rate candidates to succeed to Benedict based on where they came from but indicated that the “balance” in the Church had shifted to the southern hemisphere, where the majority of Catholics now live.

“The determining factor is he must have the wisdom and energy to confront the challenges that await the Church in every corner of the globe,” he said.

“Church institutions should help evangelisation, not slow it down. Too often we give an impression to the outside world of confrontations and careerism rather than serving the faithful,” he said.

“People and young people in particular are waiting for words of truth from the church.... On sexuality and ethics there is a strong need for sense. We need a dialogue of truth,” he added.

Asked about the conclave, Napier said: “I don't think the white smoke will come so quickly this time around” - a reference to the symbolic puffs of smoke that indicate a new pope has been chosen. - AFP

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