Polish Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, 72, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, began to work in the Roman Curia before John Paul II.
Tuesday, after the Mass of the inauguration of the pontificate, ZENIT greeted the cardinal who said unhesitatingly: "Francis' will be a great pontificate."
We asked the cardinal to tell us more.
ZENIT: Why do you think it will be a great pontificate?
Cardinal Grocholewski: Because of his simplicity and way of speaking, profound and plain, I think that today it is necessary for the Church to have this simplicity, and not speak "over people's heads," but to hearts, and this Pope knows how to speak to men's hearts.
ZENIT: Because of the Conclave, you had to postpone a trip to South America, no?
Cardinal Grocholewski: I was supposed to be in Argentina these days and I had to give up my trip to be present in the Conclave, but I hope to be able to go there soon.
ZENIT: You didn't think you were a papabile?
Cardinal Grocholewski: I'm Polish, relatively a short time ago with John Paul II a Pole was elected; hence there shouldn't be another from my country. I'm very happy that there is a Pope from another continent. This is very important to show that the Church is universal, it's not Italian or European. I am very happy that we elected this magnificent Pope. I also hope that it will be a motive for Argentines to rejoice in the faith.
ZENIT: If Karol Wojtyla had been in this Conclave, would he have been elected? Or is each Pope chosen for a specific historical circumstance?
Cardinal Grocholewski: It's the Holy Spirit who chooses the Pope. First we needed a Pope like John Paul II who gave courage, enthusiasm to the Church. Then an intellectual Pope was necessary to convince the world of the rationality of the faith, culture, reason, science, etc. Now we need a Pope who speaks to men's hearts, who shows that the strength of the Church is not due only to our brains and intelligence.
Q: What has Pope Francis stressed?
Cardinal Grocholewski: Christ is the strength of the Church and Pope Francis has stressed this many times. And I'm so pleased that he believes in the power of prayer, and he asks everyone to pray. I think it will be a great pontificate.
[Translation by ZENIT]