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Countering much speculation that next Pope will be chosen based on geographic concerns, three American cardinals say the best candidate to succeed Benedict XVI is a man of holiness who can communicate the Gospel.

“Our people back home and throughout the world are all praying for this event, that we will be guided to be able to choose the very best person to lead the Church,” Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston said.

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago has said that he and his fellow cardinals aim to choose the man who is “best suited” for the papacy and not base their decision on a candidate’s age or national origin.

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He said the cardinals’ first concern is “that the faith be strengthened and passed on” and that Catholics “be cared for” no matter where they are in the world.

Cardinal O’Malley, Cardinal George and Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston spoke about the upcoming conclave at a Feb. 28 press conference at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. The press conference came after Pope Benedict’s departure from the Vatican for Castel Gandolfo, but before his resignation took effect at 8 p.m. Rome time.

Cardinal George was in the 2005 conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI, but the other two cardinals have never been in a papal conclave. Only 117 cardinals are eligible to vote in the 2013 conclave, and two have said they will miss the conclave due to health reasons.

Papal Conclave 2013 Watch: The Job Description For The Next Pope  was originally published on

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