Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The Church in the world, the needs of New Evangelisation, the Holy See, the different dicasteries of the Roman Curia, relations with local churches and bishops, and connected to the them, the expectations and profile of the future pontiff, are the main issues addressed by the cardinals in the today's general congregation, the fourth so far. There were 18 interventions for the day, 51 thus far, Fr Federico Lombardi said in his daily briefing. The director of the Vatican Press Office added that 153 cardinals were present at this morning's meeting, including 113 cardinal electors. Two cardinal electors have not yet arrived: Card Nycz from Warsaw (expected this afternoon) and Card Pham Minh Man from Saigon (due to arrive Thursday).
Fr Lombardi said that no date has been set for Conclave, noting that the issue had not been raised yet because the cardinals want to take their time to think it over. Inside the College of Cardinals, he explained, members want this time to be better prepared for when the times come. This does not mean that the duration of congregations will have an impact on the duration of the conclave. Probably, a date has not been chosen simply to allow all cardinal electors to arrive. Tomorrow, a congregation will be held in the afternoon in order to speed up the process.
On a lighter note, this morning, as work continued in the Sistine Chapel, Angelo Sodano, the dean of cardinals, wished a happy birthday to Card Walter Kasper, the eldest of electors who turned 80 yesterday; Card Francesco Coccopalmerio, who turns 75 today; and Card Julio Terrazas Sandoval, C.SS.R., who turns 77 tomorrow.
Reporters also asked whether the decisions by north American cardinals to cancel their third briefing today was at the request of the College of Cardinals. In his answer, Fr Lombardi said that congregations are not a synod or a congress in which as much information is reported as possible. Congregations are instead a journey cardinals undertake to reflect in order to arrive well prepared for the conclave. As dictated by tradition, they are a path of greater confidentiality designed to protect the cardinals' freedom to think, reflect and discern, ending in the conclave when confidentiality is absolute.
For this reason, daily press briefings will tend to be summaries as agreed by the College of Cardinals. The College, Fr Lombardi noted, has in fact set the guidelines prelates must follow in dealing with the media.
In response to a journalist's question about why US prelates held their own media briefings, the director of the Vatican Press Office, said this pertains to the cardinals' shared responsibility in going forward along the path of reflection that leads to the conclave along a line of greater confidentiality.