Cardinals meet; no date yet set for conclave
March 04, 2013
At their first meeting of the sede vacante period, the College of Cardinals discussed procedures for a papal election but did not set a date for the opening of the conclave.
Meeting in the Synod Hall, the cardinals opened their meeting with a period of prayer, which was followed by a briefing on the use of microphones, voting procedures, and translations. The cardinals then recited a solemn oath that they would not disclose the proceedings of the conclave: first saying the oath together, then repeating it individually, with each cardinal swearing before a crucifix, with his hand on the Gospels.
Three cardinals were chosen by lot to assist the camerlengo, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, with administrative details. The assistants chosen were Cardinals Giovanni Battista Re, Crescenzio Sepe, and Franc Rodé. At the suggestion of Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the dean of the college, the cardinals approved a letter to Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI.
There were 142 cardinals present at the first congregation, of whom 103 were cardinal-electors. Thus 12 electors had not yet arrived in Rome. The Vatican press office identified those who were not present: Cardinals Duka, Grocholweski, Lehmann, Meisner, Naguib, Nycz, Pham, Rai, Rouco Varela, Sarr, Tong, and Woelki. The Vatican announced that all these prelates were expected to arrive by Tuesday.
Among those cardinals who spoke with reporters, opinion remained mixed on the wisdom of setting an early date for the conclave. Cardinal Walter Kasper, the oldest of the German cardinal-electors, argued against rushing to set a date, saying: “We need time to get to know one another.” Oddly, 4 of the 12 cardinals who were not in Rome for the first congregation were Germans.
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