“The profile for the future Pope emerging” – Fr Lombardi
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The fourth general congregation got underway Wednesday morning with 153 Cardinals present. Four more cardinals arrived in Rome overnight, three of them cardinal electors, cardinal Lehman from Germany, the Egyptian cardinal Naguib, and from Hong Kong cardinal Tong Hon.
This brings the number of cardinal electors present in Rome to 113, with two cardinals, cardinal Nycz from Warsaw and Vietnamese cardinal Pham who both arrived by Thursday.
Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, who attends the Congregation sessions, revealed that birthday greetings were also exchanged for cardinals Kasper on his 80th birthday Tuesday and Coccopalmiero who was 75 Wednesday .
On Wednesday there were 18 interventions from different cardinals representing the Church in different parts of the world, for a total of 51 thus far. Due to the large number of people wishing to speak a time frame of 5 minutes was established for each intervention.
The order of interventions, noted Fr. Lombardi, is not selected according to geographical origins or precedence. The main themes discussed were: the Church in the world, needs of New Evangelization, the Holy See, the different dicasteries of the Roman Curia; relations with local churches and bishops, what’s beginning to emerge, the Vatican spokesman noted “is the profile for the future Pope.”
Fr. Lombardi noted the variety of the interventions, from organizational questions pertaining to the Holy See to local issues of pastoral action. He also added that the cardinals have decided to meet both morning and afternoon, holding two congregation sessions and with a smile, he reiterated that no date has yet been set for Conclave.
Serene, constructive atmosphere in first of General Congregations of Cardinals
Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office, informed reporters on the proceedings of the first of the General Congregations of the College of Cardinals. The Congregation was headed by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College, accompanied by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., camerlengo of the Apostolic Camera, and Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary of the Congregation for Bishops.
The members of the College took their places following the hierarchical order of precedence: first those belonging to the order of Cardinal-bishops, then the Cardinal-priests and finally the Cardinal-deacons. Each cardinal has an assigned seat to facilitate the process of voting.
After the opening prayer, “Veni Sancte Spiritus”, followed by the “Adsumus” prayer, Cardinal Sodano greeted those present in Italian, informing them of the procedures related to the Sede Vacante and how the Congregations, regulated by the Apostolic Constitution “Universi Dominici Gregis”, will operate. Following that, technical guidance on the use of microphones and the voting apparatuses was given. The proceedings are being simultaneously translated in five languages: Italian, French, German, Spanish, and English.
The gathered cardinals swore to keep secret the deliberations for the election of the future Pope, after which the Cardinal dean, Angleo Sodano, read the oath in Latin, everyone present reciting along with him. After that, each cardinal, according to their order of precedence came forward and took the oath before a Crucifix and with their hand on the Gospels. This process occupied a good portion of the meeting’s time.
Three assistants to the camerlengo were also drawn by lot from the Cardinal electors of each of the orders. As established in No. 7 of “Universi Dominici Gregis,” these three will assist the Cardinal camerlengo for the first three days of the Congregations.
Chosen were Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re from the order of bishops, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe from the order of priests, and Cardinal Franc Rode from the order of deacons. After being chosen these three also took their places next to the Camerlengo at the head table.
13 cardinals took the floor to address issues mainly related to the process of the proceedings and the questions to be faced, also bearing in mind the results of the latest Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization. “You could define this initial encounter,” Fr. Lombardi concluded, “as serene, constructive, and positive.”
Free: How a conclave works
The Catholic Truth Society is offering a free resource for those hoping to better understand how a conclave works. “Conclave: Step by Step Through the Papal Interregnum” is available for download at their Web site.
The 36-page booklet is written by Monsignor Charles Burns, the Ecclesiastical Adviser at the British Embassy to the Holy See. The book explains what happens before, during and after a papal election. On the Net: “Conclave”: www.ctsbooks.org/pope/
Prayer intentions: March 2013
Pope Benedict’s general prayer intention for March is: “That respect for nature may grow with the awareness that all creation is God’s work entrusted to human responsibility.”
His mission intention is: “That bishops, priests, and deacons may be tireless messengers of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.”