U.S. Cardinals canceled daily press conferences

The American cardinals have suspended daily press conferences in Rome during the General Congregations at the request of the entire College of Cardinals.


“A little less conversation, a little more action, please.
All this aggravation ain’t satisfactionin’ me.”

According to the U.S. Conference of Bishops, the Cardinals thus followed a request of the College of Cardinals, which currently meets in Rome to discuss the situation of the Catholic Church and to prepare for the election. The College of Cardinals has thus highlighted the confidentiality of the interview content.


The Vatican did not comment on the decision. However, spokesman Federico Lombardi noted that Cardinals from other countries had not held such press conferences. Lombardi said that the decision of the Americans did not surprise him. There is a general need for “utmost restraint” in the run-up to the Conclave. Earlier, reports of discussions between Cardinals from the United States, Germany and Italy about the Conclave and the papal elections were surfaced in Italian media.

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Pope-election: U.S. Cardinals want time to talk

The U.S. Cardinals participating in the General Congregations for the preparation of the Conclave in the Vatican, want to take more time for discussions in regard to the election of the new Pope.

“This is the most important decision that some of us will ever make, and we need to give it the time that’s necessary,” Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston told journalists on Tuesday, after the second day of the pre-conclave meeting known as the General Congregation.

“I believe the feeling of the cardinals is we want to have enough time in the General Congregation so that when we go to the Conclave itself, it’s a time of a decision,” Cardinal O’Malley said. “The General Congregation is the time of discernment, and as much time as we need for discernment in prayer, reflection and getting information, then we need to use as much time as we have.”

Difficult task

On the question of whether the abuse scandals will complicate the choice of the future Pope, O’Malley replied: “The challenge for the Church is huge, and it is obvious that this complicates the election of a new Pope”

The Vatican continued preparations for the election of a successor of Pope Benedict XVI. on Tuesday. According to the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, 110 of the 115 cardinals under 80 who are eligible and expected to vote for the next Pope were present at the General Congregation March 5. The date of the beginning of the Conclave could thus be announced on Wednesday March 6.
Lombardi also told that, contrary to rumors, Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man, from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, was expected to arrive March 7.

It is expected that the conclave that elects the successor of Pope Benedict XVI., who resigned for reasons of age, will start next week. Thus the new Pope should be set in time for Easter.

Pope Decree allows early conclave

Pope Benedict XVI has issued a decree today which allows to bringing forward the Conclave to determine his successor. According to the rules of 1996, the conclave had actually to begin between March 15 and 20.

With this Decree (motu proprio), the Pope grants the Cardinals to bring forward the start of the conclave, as soon as all papal electors have arrived in Rome, said Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi. Recently there had been speculations over an earlier meeting of the Conclave, after several cardinals had apparently voted for it.

The bringing forward of the Conclave, to the first half of March, will allow Benedict’s successor to better prepare for the Holy Week starting on March 24, and Easter which is on on March 31. There had been speculations in Rome now for days about a conclave beginning on the 10th or 11th of March. The date of the beginning of the Conclave is expected to be announced by end of Benedict’s pontificate.

Benedict XVI. announced his resignation for the upcoming Thursday – February 28. The rules which had been defined by Benedict’s predecessor John Paul II. in the Apostolic Constitution “Universi Dominici Gregis” in 1996, provided that the conclave has to start between 15 and 20 days after the Holy See has become vacant. The timeframe should allow the Cardinals from around the world to go to Rome. This time however, numerous Cardinals have already gathered in the Vatican to bid farewell to Benedict.

Lombardi had recently declared, the rules for the meeting of the conclave were designed for the case that a pope dies. With the resignation of Benedict XVI., the situation is different, and “it is possible to interpret the rules differently”. It is crucial that all Cardinals are gathered, and with the resignation announcement they had more time to do so.

The 117 Cardinals eligible to vote, which may not be older than 80 years, will hold their Conclave in secret sessions in the Sistine Chapel. According to current knowledge, two eligible Cardinals will not participate in any way in the election – Cardinal Julius Riyadi Darmaatmadja from Indonesia and the retired Scottish Cardinal O’Brien.

Preparations are on

Federico Lombardi - Director of the Holy See Press Office¬†The conclave to choose the successor to Pope Benedict XVI. will take place 15 to 20 days after the beginning of the interregnum, after the resignation of Joseph Ratzinger on February 28. “If everything goes smoothly, it can be assumed, that the Conclave begins on the 15th of March”, the Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said on Wednesday at a press conference.

To determine the date for the beginning of the conclave, the Cardinals will meet for daily general Congregations , Lombardi reported. At these meetings, all incurred duties of the church are treated. This “Pre-Conclave” must also prepare the papal election.

In these Congregation meetings there are also permitted Cardinals aged over 80, that cannot participate in the elections. The panel is expected to include 117 cardinals. According to the Vatican, it should be clear until Easter, who will be the new pope. For the election of a pope, there are well-defined, strict rules.

Church scandals fueling rumors

The surprise resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. has left open several questions. In view of the church scandals in recent years from hundreds of abuse cases to the Vatileaks-affair, where personal documents of the Pope were published, there are many conspiracy theories.

Many just wonder why the Pope has chosen February 28 8:00 PM (CET) for this historic resignation. Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi responded to the question on Tuesday at a press conference. That has nothing to do with legal or other reasons, Lombardi explained to reporters in Rome. Rather, “at this time usually the working of the Holy Father ends.”

Previously, on February 27, Benedict XVI wants to say goodbye to the faithful in the Saint Peter’s Square . During that day “the last general audience will take place,” Lombardi said. The audience will take place at St. Peter’s, “because a lot of people are expected.”

There are many even within the Roman Catolic Church that challenged the statement, that Benedict XVI. is resigning because of his age and health status. They rather imagine¬† a “coup by the conservatives”, or other reasons such as the “documents and banking scandals”. “Now, once all look forward to what’s really behind it, possibly beyond age and health. Was it a coup by the conservatives, or he has come under pressure for other reasons? For the ultra-conservative Society of St. Pius X the Pope behaves and decides way too open and liberal. “And the Vatican is interspersed with these people”.

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