Morning Catholic must-reads: 18/02/13

A priest holds a placard in St Peter's Square during yesterday's Angelus (AP)

Benedict XVI urged an estimated 50,000 people gathered in St Peter’s Square for yesterday’s Angelus to “continue to pray for me and the next pope” (video).

German journalist and papal confidant Peter Seewald has said that Pope Benedict is suffering from sight and hearing problems and has lost so much weight that “tailors had difficulty in keeping up with newly fitted clothes“.

Senior cardinals are reportedly opposed to suggestions that the conclave could begin sooner than March 15.

John Allen profiles Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, preacher of this year’s Lenten spiritual exercises for the Roman Curia.

Catholic Voices, barrister Neil Addison and reporter Philip Pullella consider claims that Pope Benedict could be arrested over his handling of clerical abuse cases after his retirement.

Ross Douthat argues that “the Catholic moment” in American politics is over. Rod Dreher says it never existed.

And Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York has said that speculation he will be the next pope is coming “only from people smoking marijuana“.

Follow me on Twitter @lukecoppen for updates throughout the day.