The countdown to the Conclave

Cardinals meet on Monday

Since Thursday 8:00 p.m., the Catholic Church is unshepherded, after Pope Benedict XVI., who was actually appointed Pope for life, has resigned the office. The cardinals of the Catholic Church were officially invited on Friday, to gather in Rome for the preparations regarding the Conclave.

The letters have been sent by the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano. Because many Cardinals are already gathered in the Vatican, they should meet on Monday at 9:30 at the Vatican in the new Synod Hall, to prepare for the election of the new Pope. A second meeting is to be held on the same day at 5:00 pm.

According to the Vatican, 115 Cardinals are expected to take part in the Conclave. However, it is still¬†fairly vague when it will begin. There are speculations it might start on March 11, exactly four weeks after Benedict’s historic resignation announcement. By no later than 20 days after the resignation the conclave must start in any case, as required by the regulations. That would be the 20th of March.

Long “pre-Conclave” expected

Anyway, there will still no date for the Conclave be announced on Monday, so the Vatican spokesman, father Federico Lombardi. According to Lombardi, a decision concerning the Conclave will not be made on the first day. Officially, it will not be decided until all eligible Cardinals arrived in Rome.

Core task of the College of Cardinals, is the preparation for the election of the new Pope. Sodano invited 208 Cardinals to the General Congregations in the Apostolic Palace, which will take place every day until the beginning of the Conclave. All cardinals participating in the General Congregation, must swear an oath on the Gospel, to respect the regulations and to practice secrecy.

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Sede Vacante: The Cardinals take over

With the end of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, the time of the Sede Vacante starts next Thursday, February 28, at 8:00 pm. This is how the period is called, in which the office of the Pope is not occupied.

Typically, this period extends from the death of the head of church until his successor is elected. The term comes from Latin and literally means “empty chair”. During the papal transition, the College of Cardinals, eventually all 209 currently living Cardinals, are in charge of the church. Their powers are limited to tasks and decisions that can not be postponed. Laws issued by the Pope cannot be corrected or modified during this period.

Administrated by Cardinal Chamberlain

The interim government of the Church is taken over by the Cardinal Chamberlain (Camerlengo). The current Camerlengo is Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. Together with three Cardinal assistants, that are chosen by lot and replaced every three days, he forms a so-called special congregation, wich decides, among other things, when the entire College of Cardinals shall meet for the first General Congregation, to prepare the Pope election.

The General Congregation meets daily at the Apostolic Palace, and is headed by the Dean of Cardinals Angelo Sodano. The College of Cardinals prepares in particular the election of the new Pope. The Pope election traditionally takes place in the Sistine Chapel under strictest security and confidentiality measures. However, during their stay in Rome, the Cardinals live  Рalso during the time of the conclave Рreasonably comfortable in the Vatican Guest House Santa Marta.

All Cardinals participating in the General Congregation, must swear an oath on the Gospel, to respect the rules and to absolute secrecy. The same applies to participants who are older than 80 years and may therefore not participate in the election of the new Pope. The cardinals swear, among other things, that they “will keep everything secret, which relates in any way to the election of the Pope.

The faithful are encouraged to pray

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Angelus prayer in Rome: Pope Benedict XVI. calls for spiritual battle

Tens of thousands of people where cheering the outgoing Pope at his penultimate Angelus prayer in Rome. Benedict XVI. denounces arrogance and selfishness and calls for the renewal of the Catholic Church and its members. This is a “spiritual battle against the spirit of evil”.

Rome – great cheers and applause of the crowd at St. Peter’s square when Benedict XVI. showed up on the window of his private study / workroom and waved to the pilgrims. The parting Pope spoke his penultimate Angelus prayer as a church leader, tens of thousands of people attended.

In a short speech Benedict XVI called on the Catholic Church and its members to renew. Church and believers should “turn to God again, in response to arrogance and selfishness”. This means a “spiritual battle, because the spirit of evil is trying to distract us from the path of God,” Benedict said standing at the window of the Apostolic Palace.

“In the decisive moments in life, basically in every single moment, we stand at a crossroads: do we want to follow one’s (own) self or God?” The individual interests or the really good?

pope-study-room

The ANSA news agency reported, citing the Vatican, there were about 50,000 people in St. Peter’s square. “Thank you, that you appeared so numerous”, said Benedict. “This is a sign of affection and the intellectual interests that you show me these days.”

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