Latin American Pope a Possibility, Says Archbishop

Cardinal-designate of Caracas Speculates to Press

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 18, 2001 ( With the creation of 11 new cardinals from Latin America this week, the possibilities increase for the next pope to be elected from that area, a Venezuelan archbishop said.

Archbishop Ignacio Antonio Velasco García of Caracas is set to be among the 44 men who will receive the cardinal´s hat on Wednesday at the Vatican.

Questioned about the possibility of a future pope from Latin America, Archbishop Velasco said during an interview with Associated Press Television News: «I think it is probable. … However, it is only a conjecture, because many things can happen in a conclave.»

«You never know, but it could be a Latin American cardinal,» he said. «There certainly will be some votes,» he added, raising his hand. Latin America embraces 40% of the Church´s 1 billion faithful.

The Venezuelan cardinal-designate said, however, that John Paul II has still time to go. «May God keep him for us for many years,» he exclaimed.

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