(ANSA) - Rome, February 22 - The conclave of cardinals due
to elect a new pope next month dropped down to 116 on Friday
after Indonesia's cardinal announced he will not go to Rome due
to ailing health.
"I will not go. My eyesight does not allow me," said
Cardinal Julius Riyadi Darmaatmadja in an interview with
Jakarta-based magazine Hidup Katolik.
Darmaatmadja, 78, added that he would be unable to read
"texts, materials, rules, and so on" during the selection
"For this I ask forgiveness from the Catholic Church of
Indonesia, that I cannot represent (the country) in this very
important event," he said.
Vatican Spokesman Federico Lombardi said that the
congregation of cardinals still had to formalize his absence.
Benedict XVI will formally step down from the papacy
The conclave of cardinals to elect his successor is
expected to commence mid-March, but Benedict may issue a
temporary change of rules to start it sooner.