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Friday, March 8, 2013


Vatican City, 8 March 2013 (VIS) – The eighth General Congregation of the College of Cardinals has decided that the Conclave will begin on Tuesday, 12 March 2013. A “pro eligendo Romano Pontifice” Mass will be celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica that morning. In the afternoon, the cardinals will enter into the Conclave.


Vatican City, 8 March 2013 (VIS) - “The eighth General Congregation that will meet this evening will vote on the date to begin the Conclave”, Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, announced. “It is likely,” he clarified, “that the Conclave will begin early next week: perhaps Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. It definitely will not be tomorrow or Sunday. Tomorrow a General Congregation will only take place in the morning and on Sunday it is expected that the cardinals will visit their titular churches in the city to pray. They are under no obligation to do so, but it is likely that they will.”

Before beginning the press conference, Fr. Lombardi noted that today is International Women's Day and offered a bouquet of mimosas with a rose to a female journalist in representation of all women in keeping with the custom in the Vatican to give flowers to the women who work in the Holy See today.

Continuing, Fr. Lombardi reported on the sixth General Congregation, which took place yesterday evening from 5:00pm until 7:00pm and was attended by 151 cardinals. Two newly arrived cardinals swore the oath: Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man, metropolitan archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (Cardinal elector) and Cardinal Adam Joseph Maida, archbishop emeritus of Detroit, Michigan, USA (non elector). The entire complement of 115 Cardinal electors who were expected has thus arrived. During the course of the Congregation 16 interventions were given.

In the seventh General Congregation this morning, 153 cardinals were present and, as there were no other new arrivals, no new oaths were sworn. All 115 expected Cardinal electors were present. The first act of the Congregation dealt with No. 38 of the Apostolic Constitution “Universi Dominici Gregis”, which states that the College of Cardinals must recognize the reasons for the absence of cardinals who will not be participating in the Conclave. “In this case there are two absences: Cardinal Julius Riyadi Darmaatmadja, S.J., archbishop emeritus of Jakarta, Indonesia, for health reasons and Cardinal Keith O’Brien, ex-archbishop of Edinburgh, Scotland, for personal reasons. The College voted to accept the absences for the reasons presented.”

The next order of business was Cardinal Dean Angelo Sodano's presentation of No. 37 of the Apostolic Constitution “Universi Dominici Gregis”, recently modified by Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio, which now reads: “I furthermore decree that, from the moment when the Apostolic See is lawfully vacant, fifteen full days must elapse before the Conclave begins, in order to await those who are absent; nonetheless, the College of Cardinals is granted the faculty to move forward the start of the Conclave if it is clear that all the Cardinal electors are present; they can also defer, for serious reasons, the beginning of the election for a few days more. But when a maximum of twenty days have elapsed from the beginning of the vacancy of the See, all the Cardinal electors present are obliged to proceed to the election.”

Since all the expected Cardinal electors are now present”, Fr. Lombardi said, “the College can now prepare to decide the date of the Conclave, including whether to move the date up from 15 days after the beginning of the period of the Sede Vacante.”

The cardinals also commented on the Adopt-a-Cardinal prayer initiative that is being promoted on the web, which over 220,000 people have already subscribed to.” In signing up, participants are assigned, at random, a cardinal for whom they can pray during these days.

During this morning's seventh General Congregation, there were 18 interventions on issues including: interreligious dialogue, contemporary culture, bioethics, justice in the world, the importance of the Church proclaiming a positive message of love and mercy, and collegiality. The role of women in the Church was also discussed. Since most of the cardinals have only spoken once, over a hundred cardinals have intervened and still others are signed up to address the gathering in the coming Congregations.

Fr. Lombardi also mentioned the Domus Santa Martha, which will be the residence of the cardinals during the Conclave, explaining that the cardinals' rooms are assigned by lot drawn during the Congregations. “No cardinal chooses who will be his neighbour nor which room they would prefer. He noted that the newly elected Pontiff will also remain for a short period at the “Domus” while the papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace are unsealed and renovated.

In another vein, he commented that the Holy See “is vacant but does not stop”, meaning that the Vatican's various dicasteries continue with their normal activities under the direction of their various department heads. He also provided the name of the preacher who will give the following meditation to the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Prospero Grech, O.S.A.

Responding to previous questions regarding the preparations of the floor of the Sistine Chapel for the Conclave, the director of the Holy See Press Office clarified that “the elevation of the floor serves to render a uniform working space, covering the uneven pavement and the steps” that are around the altar and along the left wall of the chapel.


Vatican City, 8 March 2013 (VIS) - “I have never felt alone.” These words, pronounced by Benedict XVI during his last general audience as Pope on Wednesday, 27 February, form the title chosen by the Vatican Publishing House (“Libreria Editrice Vaticana”, LEV) for the newly published book containing Benedict XVI's final addresses. The front cover displays a photograph of the Pope greeting the faithful who had gathered to bid him farewell that day in St. Peter's Square. On the back appear the words he spoke from Castel Gandolfo on 28 February: “I am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this earth.”

The noted publishing house presents this book as a “small tribute”, a “sign of the LEV's fidelity to the Holy Father” who, as expressed in the book's introductory presentation, “we have accompanied from the beginning to the end of his Pontificate”. It is a simply bound volume that hopes to “be a sign of gratitude and appreciation”.

In the same introduction, the LEV explains that the Vatican Publishing House's “catalogue has focused on the magisteria and teachings of Benedict XVI”. In this sense, the publishing house recalls that its mission is to “always be an instrument for spreading the word of God and the Magisterium”.

The first text presented in the book is the declaration that Benedict XVI made in the consistory of 11 February, renouncing his ministry as Bishop of Rome. Following are his general audience catechesis on the morning of Wednesday, 13 February, his homily at the Ash Wednesday Mass that evening, and the greeting that the Pope received at the conclusion of that celebration from the Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B.

The book also presents his meeting with the clergy of Rome on 14 February, the Angelus from 17 and 24 February, his reflection at the end of the Curia's Lenten retreat on the morning of 23 February, the text of his final general audience on the 27th, his greeting to the cardinals present in Rome on the morning of the 28th, and the words he addressed to the faithful of the Diocese of Albano who were awaiting him in the square in front of the Apostolic Palace at Castel Gandolfo in the early evening of that day.

The book also contains the text of the Apostolic Letter with his Motu Proprio “Normas Nonnullas”, which modified some of the norms regulating the process of the election of the Roman Pontiff.

The volume concludes with a brief biography of Benedict XVI. It is only available in Italian.


Vatican City, 8 March 2013 (VIS) – We inform our readers that, for the announcement of the Conclave, the VIS will transmit a bulletin tomorrow morning, Saturday 9 March.
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