Andrew Greeley, a priest and novelist from Chicago, said John Paul had clearly "failed to restore the discipline of the church's traditional sexual ethic."
The conclave must start within 15 to 20 days of his death, drawing together 117 cardinals aged under 80 in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel.
John Paul was the third longest-serving pope in 2,000 years of Christianity, meaning he was able to hand-pick almost all the cardinals who will enter the conclave, stacking the odds that his conservative teachings will not be eroded.
NOT A POLITICAL ELECTION
Several cardinals including Jean-Marie Lustiger of France said they had not made up their minds on John Paul's successor.
"I think it needs to be a man who is not similar to John Paul II -- it would be absurd to think such things -- but one who has the same qualities of love for truth, love for men," Lustiger said.
"It's not a political election. There's no party that wins or loses," said another French Cardinal, Bernard Panafieu.
Cardinal Jorge Medina of Chile said: "I want to vote for someone who is, above all, a shepherd. I'm not voting for a politician."
The other amusing thing here is that Reuter's hasn't realized that John Paul II has just pipped Leo XIII by 17 days to be come the second longest-serving pope.
Finally, and more seriously, the bias I alluded to in yesterday's BBC piece, makes itself known here too with pejorative phrases such as "stacking the odds". I have to say that I am not in agreement with the pope with regards to much of his sexual doctrine and the like but I do not think that Reuters has any right to make such comments in what is supposed to be a news piece and it detracts from my trust that Reuters will report events straight (not that it was very high to begin with).
This is in fact the reason why I'm using the Greeley book as my guide to what is to be expected and as a way to decode the various announcements over the next few days. According to Greeley one of the more interesting signs of who are the Curia favoured front runners will be who preaches at the various requiem masses.
BTW probably the only good source of journalistic comment - but one which doesn't seem to have much on line - is the Tablet. I will read the next issue with great attention.
Update: Tim W's comment below is in fact covered by Greeley - he calls it the sin of tempting God that is making no effort but expecting God to do all the work. Or in more detail:
Tempting God. This is the sin of doing or omitting something in order to test one of Gods attributes, especially His love, wisdom, or power.
An explicit tempting of God is done when a person deliberately puts God to the test. Such would be telling God to work a miracle as a person throws himself over a cliff; or an atheist boasting that if there is a God, let Him strike me dead. These are grave crimes.
But implicit tempting of God is more common. Thus it is tempting God to expect Him to provide the grace we need to fulfill our duties in life without prayer.