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Cardinals in congregation completing preparation for conclave

Catholic World News - March 08, 2013

At a briefing for reporters on March 8, the director of the Vatican press office confirmed that all cardinal-electors had arrived in Rome to participate in the daily conferences leading up to the papal conclave.

Under the terms of a motu proprio released by Pope Benedict XVI before his resignation took effect, the presence of all 115 cardinal-electors made it possible for the cardinals to set a date for the conclave earlier than March 15. Ordinarily, the rules governing papal succession would have required a 15-day waiting period after the Holy See became officially vacant on February 28.

After the 7th general congregation meeting on Friday morning, Father Federico Lombardi, said that the cardinals would probably vote to set a date for the conclave that afternoon. His prediction proved accurate, as the afternoon session set the opening date for the conclave at Tuesday, March 11. (See today’s separate CWN headline story.)

During the morning session, Father Lombardi disclosed, the College of Cardinals officially accepted the reasons for the absence of two prelates who are qualified cardinal-electors: Cardinal Julius Darmaatmadja of Jakarta, who had announced that illness would prevent him from traveling to Rome; and Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who resigned amid accusations of sexual impropriety and said that he would not attend the conclave.

The cardinals expressed gratitude for the “Adopt-a-Cardinal” program, which has encouraged over 375,000 people around the world to pledge their prayerful support for a particular cardinal during the conclave.

At his briefing Father Lombardi offered bouquets to the female journalists in attendance, noting that it is a custom at the Vatican to give flowers to women who work there on International Women’s Day.

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