Society - With only two of the 115 cardinals, who will elect the new pope being awaited, the cardinals continued their pre-conclave meetings Wednesday outlining qualities the successor of Pope emeritus, Benedict XVI, should have.
Although the hierarchy of the world's 1.2 Catholic Church had not set a date to begin the conclave, the cardinals, who took an oath of secrecy and have agreed to media blackout of pre-conclave meeting.
Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi told reporters, yesterday, that delay in setting a date for the conclave was in order and not related to divisions among cardinals.
'One senses strongly within the College (of cardinals) the desire for an adequate, serious, profound preparation, not hurried. So in this situation it still has not seemed opportune to put a date for the conclave to a vote,' he said.
Moving too quickly to vote,' he said, 'could seem to many like forcing' the issue, rather than 'respecting the dynamics of reflection and maturation' of ideas on the part of the cardinals.
But, he said, the cardinals have said they want a thorough preparation, 'which will facilitate arriving at the decisive moment of the conclave with a clearer idea, a more mature process that will facilitate their commitment in voting.
'How much time the first and second phases will require, I have no idea,' he said.
Lombardi also said another sign that the conclave is not just a day or two away is the fact that the cardinals still have not drawn lots for their suites or single bedrooms in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican guesthouse. where they will stay during the conclave.
During yesterday's session, Lombardi said 18 cardinals spoke and the principal themes were: 'The church in the world today and the needs for the new evangelization; the Holy See, the Roman Curia and their relationship with the bishops; the expectations for and a profile of the future pope that result from these expectations of the world and the needs for the good governing of the church.'
The two cardinal electors being awaited are Polish Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw, who was expected last night and Vietnamese Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man of Ho Chi Minh City is expected today.
Pre-conclave meetings: Cardinals agree to media blackout
Citing unauthorized press reports on their preparatory meetings for the upcoming papal election, the College of Cardinals agreed to a media blackout similar to one observed before the previous conclave in 2005.
The change was announced yesterday in an email to reporters from Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of media relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, following the third day of pre-conclave meetings among cardinals at the Vatican.
'Concern was expressed in the general congregation about leaks of confidential proceedings reported in Italian newspapers,' Sister Walsh wrote, using the official name for the meetings, which started March 4. 'As a precaution, the cardinals have agreed not to do interviews.'
In a second statement later March 6, she added, 'The U.S. cardinals are committed to transparency and have been pleased to share a process-related overview of their work with members of the media and with the public, in order to inform while ensuring the confidentiality of the General Congregations.'
The statements followed the last-minute cancellation of a briefing for journalists by New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan and Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George, both of whom will vote in the papal election.
That briefing would have been the third by U.S. cardinals since the start of the meetings. On March 4, Cardinal George appeared with Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl; the next day, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston spoke alongside Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley.
The Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, would not comment on the reasons for the blackout, but said he was not surprised that cardinals who had started with an attitude 'of openness, of communication, of sharing' had changed approach in the course of their deliberations, deferring to the 'sensitivity, the desire and indications of the whole College of Cardinals.'
By Clifford Ndujihe with Agency Report