General Congregations day 3: Still no date for Conclave

Today, preparations for the election of a successor to Pope Benedict XVI. continued, but still no date announced for the conclave.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi reported after the fourth meeting before the Conclave, that 153 Cardinals were present on Wednesday, 113 of them under the age of 80 and thus eligible to vote. Yet, the last two papal electors are to arrive in Rome until Thursday. These are Polish Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz and the Vietnamese Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man. On Thursday, two General Gongregations are held in the morning and in the afternoon.

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Climate “very fraternal”

The climate at the meeting on Wednesday  was very fraternal, Lombardi told the press. The Dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano, congratulated some Cardinals, who celebrate their birthday these days. Among them is also the German Cardinal Walter Kasper, who will celebrate his 80. birthday on Monday.

The consultations took place behind closed doors in the Synod Hall and were headed by Dean of Cardinals Sodano. Applicable duties of the Church were treated in the General Congregation. 18 Cardinals came forward to speak on Wednesday, and so far there were 51 speeches of Cardinals since the beginning of the General Congregations on Monday. Topics included the need for a new evangelization, the relations between the Vatican and the episcopates of the individual countries, as well as the profile of the new Pope, Lombardi reported.

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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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College of Cardinals in charge of Church

During the “Sede Vacante”, the College of Cardinals leads the Church. But its powers are limited to tasks and decisions which can not be postponed.

Decrees, issued by the Popes, must not be corrected or changed during this time.The interim administration of the Church is run by the Camerlengo and his three Cardinal assistants. The College of Cardinals prepares in particular the election of the new Pope.

With the beginning of the “Sede Vacante”, the Catholic Church and the Vatican State are temporarily run by the College of Cardinals. The Dean of the College, ex-Cardinal Angelo Sodano (85), invited the 208 cardinals to General congregations in the Apostolic Palace, held daily until the start of the conclave.

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115 Cardinals at the Conclave

Since many cardinals already gathered in the Vatican, the meeting will start on Monday. Key task is to determine the start date for the conclave, that could possibly begin on the weekend a few days later. Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said: “As of today, 115 cardinals will be coming to the Vatican to elect a new Pope. Benedict XVI. paved the way for a quick appointment of a date just a few days ago.

Longer stay at Castel Gandolfo

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The list of Cardinal Electors for the 2013 Papal Conclave

Cardinal Electors

NOTE: Cardinals that reach the age of 80 before the day the Holy See becomes vacant may not vote in a conclave.

Therefore Cardinal Lubomyr Husar from the Ukraine, born on Feb 26 1933, is not eligible to vote.

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