Rome is feverishly awaiting the inauguration of the new Pope Francis I. on Tuesday. Delegations from 132 countries, more than 80 heads of state met on Monday in Rome to attend the service for the enthronement of the Argentine Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
The Holy See maintains diplomatic relations with 179 countries. “We expect that about 250,000 people will attend the divine service,” reported the Vatican spokesman, father Federico Lombardi. The rough estimate of the Roman city administration is that up to one million people could attend. The Vatican is “certainly happy if that many people participate.”
Mugabe once again causes discord
The Italian government already raised the safety precautions up to a maximum, and the city of Rome, which has slightly more than 2.5 million has set all the machinery in motion to cope with the rush of the faithful. Thousands of security forces are on duty to ensure the safety of the heads of State and Government. Drastic restrictions of air traffic over Rome were put into effect. Snipers, bomb experts, dog patrols and motorcycle units are on duty.
The Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who had travelled to Rome despite an EU travel ban, caused polemic. Zimbabwe argues that the Vatican is a sovereign state and therefore not affected by EU travel ban. The EU travel ban against dictator Mugabe applies since 2002. However, the controversial African head of State traveled to Rome in 2005 for the funeral of Pope John Paul II. He also went there in May 2011, to attend the celebrations for the beatification of Pope John Paul II.
The Archbishop of Edinburgh and Saint Andrews, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, resigned today after allegations of “improper behavior” with young priests. He will not take part in the forthcoming conclave.
The highest ranking dignitary of the Catholic Church in Britain, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, has resigned. This was announced by the Catholic Church of Scotland on Monday. According to the release, Pope Benedict XVI. had already accepted the resignation on February 18. O’Brien himself announced the Pope had assigned his resignation as Archbishop of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh for February 25.
O’Brien had so far been among the 117 Cardinals who are eligible to vote in the election of the new Pope after the resignation announcement of Pope Benedict XVI. Now he declared he will not take part in the Conclave to the election. He justified his retirement with the fact, that he did not want to draw media attention in Rome on his person. These should be focused on Pope Benedikt and his successor. The 74-year-old is the only British clergyman who should belong to the conclave.