Jakarta (AsiaNews) - There will be 116 and not 117 cardinal electors, as first expected from the official list of those who will choose the future Pope, after Benedict XVI steps down at 8 pm on 28 February next. The 78 year-old Indonesian Cardinal Julius Riyadi Darmaatmadja, Archbishop Emeritus of Jakarta, has told AsiaNews that he will not be present - by "free and personal" choice - because of severe health problems. Speaking over the phone from the Jesuit Emmaus House, a retirement home for elderly priests and prelates in Ungaran city, central Java, the prelate emphasizes the "progressive deterioration" of his condition, since he left the archdiocese in the capital two years ago, on having reached retirement age.
"It s mostly my eyesight," he says quietly, but firmly, pointing out that the problem would impose a "serious obstacle" to work within the Conclave, where assistants are not allowed during the election. The inability to read texts and documents is also an obstacle too such a great task which requires serenity and autonomy.
"I am convinced - Cardinal Darmaatmadja tells AsiaNews - that I am no longer suitable and proper to sit with other cardinals to vote for the new pope. So I have decided not to go to Rome for that kind of important event in the history of the church." He also adds that he "fully understands" Pope Benedict XVI's decision to resign for health reasons. "I experienced this first hand - he says- when I was Archbishop of Jakarta and I decided to resign when I reached 75." Because to be bishop of a metropolitan city one must "be in good physical health."
In conclusion, the cardinal confesses his "deep sorrow" in not being able to go to Rome and attend the conclave, but believes it to be the right decision so as not to "break protocol" and hamper the work of the Cardinals.