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Cardinals continue talks, leaks unabated; no date for conclave

Catholic World News - March 07, 2013

The College of Cardinals held its 4th day of congregations on March 7, with all 115 of the cardinal-electors now present, but again declined to set a date for a papal conclave.

Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw arrived at the Vatican on Thursday morning, and Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man of Ho Chi Minh City joined the congregation Thursday afternoon. With the full complement of cardinal-electors now in Rome, the College of Cardinals could set a date for a conclave earlier than March 15. But the day’s sessions ended without any announcement of a date.

At a briefing for reporters, Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, denied reports that the Vatican basilica had been reserved for a special Mass on Monday, March 11, to open the conclave. The basilica has not been reserved, he said. Moreover any priest is authorized to celebrate the Mass pro eligendo Summo Pontefice, so the scheduling of a Mass for that intention would not necessarily signal the beginning of the conclave.

Leaked reports from the cardinals’ daily congregations continued to appear in the Italian media, a day after the American cardinals reluctantly agreed to suspend their daily press briefings in deference to their colleagues’ concern about unauthorized reports. Father Lombardi remarked that the cardinals themselves are responsible for enforcing their agreement to treat the discussions as confidential. “If anyone knows who is violating this, they should say so,” he said. Sister Mary Ann Walsh, the press coordinator for the American bishops, was more forthright in contrasting the American cardinals’ open approach with that of some Italian prelates. “Our culture is to call a press conference and tell everyone,” she said, whereas Italy is “a land of leaks.”

During their Thursday congregations, Father Lombardi reported, the cardinals were briefed on the financial dealings of the Vatican. He declined to offer further details.

Also on Thursday, three cardinals there chosen by lot to assist the camerlengo, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, in the temporary administration of Vatican affairs. The cardinal-assistants, who serve for 3-day terms, are Cardinal Bechara Rai, the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch; Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo; and Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, the former president of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs.

Finally, the Vatican spokesman revealed that Cardinal Angelo Sodano had read a letter of condolence to the people of Venezuela on the death of President Hugo Chavez, and the College of Cardinals approved the message. The Pope routinely sends messages of condolence when a head of state dies, Father Lombardi observed, so in his absence the cardinals made the gesture.

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