Yesterday the vice prefect of the Vatican Library, Ambrogio Piazzoni, told reporters that one of the rare reasons for a cardinal not to attend a conclave to elect a new Pope would be his health. The 2005 conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI was missed for this reason by two cardinals, and this year at least one will also be staying at home.
Julius Cardinal Darmaatmadja is the emeritus archbishop of Jakarta. He will be staying at the retirement home for elderly clergy in central Java that has been his home since he retired in 2010, and so will not be joining the 116 other cardinal electors in Rome.
The reason, Asianews reports, are increasing problems with his eyesight which, as the cardinal says, would pose a “serious obstacle” for participating in the conclave. He regrets not being able to travel to Rome, but thinks it is the best choice to stay at home. In the light of his own physical problems, Cardinal Darmaatmadja says, he understands Pope Benedict’s decision to abdicate. “I lived on the skin of my teeth when I was Archbishop of Jakarta and I decided to resign when I reached 75 years.” A bishop of a metropolitan see, he added, “must be in good physical health”.
Julius Riyadi Cardinal Darmaatmadja was archbishop of Jakarta from 1996 to 2010. He is cardinal-priest of Sacro Cuore di Maria.