He is one of six German cardinals who in the next few days elect the new Pope in Rome. In an interview with BILD.de Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes (78), says how he responded to the resignation of his friend Pope Benedict XVI and how he sees the conclave.
BILD: Your Eminence, when was your last meeting with Pope Benedict?
Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes: At the farewell to the cardinals in the Clementine Hall, shortly before his departure last Thursday and it was my turn. The Pope asked me spontaneously and easily: How do you do? And I replied: Apart from your resignation - well, Holy Father.
BILD: Did you want to make a joke?
Cordes: The withdrawal of this great Pontiff left not only in me, but in very many believers a painful void.
BILD: Will you meet Pope Benedict again?
Cordes: I've also asked him if I can. And he gave his consent.
BILD: Not long ago you were a guest of Pope Benedict ...
Cordes: In early February I had eaten dinner with the Holy Father and Georg Gänswein in the papal apartment. First, there was pasta. Then roast pork with green beans. And of course, dessert. In the end, the Pope served a very old sherry.
BILD: How did you get the invitation?
Cordes: Gänswein had told the Pope that my new book "Preserving Evidence - mystics witness to God" now had been printed. I had dedicated ot to the Pope. He apparently wanted to read it. Then came the invitation, and I could present the Holy Father with a copy.
BILD: What impression did you have of the Pope? Was he weakened?
Cordes: He was mentally very active. But he did not have the former great vitality, which I knew he had once.
BILD: Did his resignation come as a surprise?
Cordes: It came to me, as for all the other cardinals as well, like a bolt from the blue. We were in shock, when he told us at the meeting.
BILD: Can you remember your first ever meeting with Ratzinger?
Cordes: Probably not in as much detail as Benedict, who has a fantastic memory. It was in 1969 at the seminary in Paderborn. Hans Küng had then built an elaborate house in Tübingen. The money was coming from the sale of his books. I asked Ratzinger whether with books it was ever possible to make money. He said yes, as he himself also wrote books.
BILD: Do you look forward to the conclave and the election of a pope?
Cordes: Yes. It will hopefully be a short conclave and pretty soon. I want to compare the time with the visit to the dentist, as you want get everything over with as quickly as possible. Also, I do not know what exactly to expect. I know about what happens in a conclave from mediocre films. We will see.
BILD: What do you think of the proposal of Cardinal Kasper, that the Pope in governing the Church, should appoint an additional panel of bishops and laymen ?
Cordes: The Pope can create this, if he wants. But there are likely enough committees . Our most important task is the deepening of faith. Benedict has always pointed again to God . The forgetfulness of God is the problem of our time.
BILD: Which candidate would be the best for us Germans?
Cordes: If a candidate engineered his own election, he would have failed me. A pope is not just there for Germany . He's a good pope when he awakens hope and consolation, because he proclains salvation of God for us all- especially for the disenfranchised and oppressed.
BILD: Should the successor continue Benedict's policy of "detachment from the world by the church"?
Cordes: The initial rejection of many was emotional and ill-conceived. In the Freiburg speech great wisdom can be found. It is - well beyond Germany - a weighty push bacj against life without God
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