On the way to the Conclave. First General Congregation of the College of Cardinals

Summary of the comments from the Vatican Press Officer
by Celine Kelly | Source: www.catholic.net

The cardinals met this morning at 9:30am in the Synod Hall in the Vatican. Each 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 them in Italian, informing them of procedures related to the Sede Vacante and how the Congregations will operate. Technical guidance on the use of microphones and the voting apparatuses was given. The proceedings are being simultaneously translated into Italian, French, German, Spanish, and English.

   There were 142 of the total 207 cardinals present this morning; 103 of the 115 Cardinal electors. Expected to arrive by tomorrow are 63 others including the remaining 12 Cardinal electors. The cardinals swore to keep secret the deliberations for the election and took the oath before a Crucifix, with their hand on the Gospels. 3 assistants to the camerlengo were drawn by lot from the Cardinal electors of each of the orders who will assist the Cardinal camerlengo for the first 3 days of the Congregations: 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. These 3 took their places next to the Camerlengo at the head table. According to tradition, it is expected that the preacher of the Pontifical Household, Fr. Raniero Catalamessa, O.F.M. Cap, will give the first meditation to the College of Cardinals early this afternoon. Dean Sodano proposed to the cardinals that, if they sent a message to the Pope emeritus, he would give a written response for one of the following meetings. The atmosphere was very friendly. The cardinals took a 45-minute coffee break to exchange thoughts. Then 13 cardinals took the floor to address issues mainly related to the process of the proceedings and the questions to be faced, bearing in mind the results of the latest Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization. This initial encounter was serene, constructive and positive, said Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office.

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