Cardinal George Pell: 'It could happen - I'm Catholic, I'm a bishop, I'm a cardinal.' Photo: Anthony Johnson
Australia's most senior Catholic has criticised outgoing Pope Benedict XVI, saying his retirement sets a worrying precedent.
In his first interview since the Pope announced he would step down, Cardinal George Pell has voiced concerns about the decision.
"People who, for example, might disagree with a future pope will mount a campaign to get him to resign," he told the Seven Network on Wednesday.
He described Pope Benedict as a "brilliant teacher", but noted that "government wasn't his strongest point".
"He's got to know his theology, but I think I prefer somebody who can lead the church and pull it together a bit," he said.
Pope Benedict officially retired today and the behind-closed-doors conclave ballot system used to select his successor is likely to begin in early March.
Cardinal Pell, 71, travelled to the Vatican late last week to join the 116 other cardinals, aged under 80, who formed the conclave at the Sistine Chapel.
He is the only cardinal from the Oceania region to vote at the conclave and he is one of just 50 attending the vote who also helped select Benedict XVI during the 2005 conclave.
He told Seven he was "highly unlikely" to be in line for a promotion, although he did not rule it out.
"It could happen - I'm Catholic, I'm a bishop, I'm a cardinal," he said.