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.
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.
This years Ash Wednesday in Rome is all about the demise of Pope Benedict XVI., who retires at the end of February from the highest office of the Catholic Church. In the evening, after the general Audience, the Pope celebrated his last Ash Wednesday liturgy before numerous church dignitaries and thousands of believers. He was greeted with thunderous applause.
In his sermon Benedict XVI. issued a call for renewal and conversion during Lent the worshipers. This just serves to renew the conversation and concrete actions. “Today, many are ready to tear down their clothes in the face of scandals and injustices – which were of course committed by others – but few seem only willing to work on one’s own heart, one’s own conscience and their own intentions, and thereby leave the conversion, renovation and conversion to the Lord, “said Benedict XVI.
It is important to remember this and to live that this Lent: Everyone should be aware that the path of penance could not be overcome alone, but together with the many brothers and sisters in the Church, the Pope said.
“I think especially of the sin against the unity of the Church, to the divisions in the body of the Church,” the Pope said. “To live Lent in a more intense and visible ecclesial community and overcome the individualism and rivalries, is a humble and precious testimony to those who turned away from faith or are indifferent.”