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Pack For A Week, Study The Favorites: A Brazilian Cardinal's Last Thoughts Before Conclave

Press blackout be damned, Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis spoke with Folha de S. Paolo about papal candidates, including fellow Brazilian Scherer. Assis expects a short conclave, but is packed for a long one.

Brazilian Cardinals Odilo Scherer (left) and Raymundo Damasceno Assis (right)
Brazilian Cardinals Odilo Scherer (left) and Raymundo Damasceno Assis (right)
Fabiano Maisonnave

VATICAN CITY- Even after last week’s media blackout imposed by the Vatican, Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis chose to give an interview to Folha de S.Paolo before entering Tuesday's conclave.

Damasceno Assis confirmed that the frontrunner papabili as touted in the press -- including his compatriot, Cardinal Odilo Scherer -- do indeed enjoy strong support among the other cardinals. He predicted that the conclave will be over rather quickly, as the preparation meetings have gone very smoothly.

Relaxed and in a good mood during a sit-down on Sunday, Cardinal Damasceno Assis, 76, the archbishop of Aparecida, was the only one of the five Brazilian cardinals to give an extensive interview since the meetings began last week. He says that he is comfortable not being among those likely to become pope: “I think Cardinal Scherer might be under a lot of pressure.”

“It’s hard to say who will really get all of the votes necessary, but of those mentioned in the press, we have to admit that there is a possibility that one of these cardinals could be chosen,” he added.

The President of the Brazilian Bishops Conference, Damasceno Assis reiterated that the choice has not yet been made -- the game is still wide open: “There may be surprises. If the future pope had already been chosen, we would not need to hold a conclave.”

He said that he will reside in room 418 in the Casa Santa Marta, the residence inside the Vatican where all 115 cardinals will stay from Tuesday morning onwards. He predicted that the election of the new pope would be fast, as meetings have already clearly established the new pope’s necessary characteristics.

Even so, the cardinal brought seven days worth of clothes with him -- just in case.

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Indigenous Women Of Ecuador Set Example For Sustainable Agriculture

In southern Ecuador, a women-led agricultural program offers valuable lessons on sustainable farming methods, but also how to end violence.

Photo of women walking in Ecuador

Women walking in Guangaje Ecuador

Camila Albuja

SARAGURO — Here in this corner of southern Ecuador, life seems to be like a mandala — everything is cleverly used in this ancestral system of circular production. But the women of Saraguro had to fight and resist to make their way of life, protecting the local water and the seeds. When weaving, the women share and take care of each other, also weaving a sense of community.

With the wrinkled tips of her fingers, Mercedes Quizhpe, an indigenous woman from the Kichwa Saraguro people, washes one by one the freshly harvested vegetables from her garden. Standing on a small bench, with her hands plunged into the strong torrent of icy water and the bone-chilling early morning breeze, she checks that each one of her vegetables is ready for fair day. Her actions hold a life of historical resistance, one that prioritizes the care of life through the defense of territory and food sovereignty.

Mercedes' way of life is also one that holds many potential lessons for how to do agriculture and tourism better.

In the province of Loja, work begins before sunrise. At 5:00 a.m., the barking of dogs, the guardians of each house, starts. There is that characteristic smell of damp earth from the morning dew. Sheep bah uninterruptedly through the day. With all this life around, the crowing of early-rising roosters doesn't sound so lonely.

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