Vatican Briefing on Funeral and Cardinals' Meetings

65 Take Part in First Congregation

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 4, 2005 ( Here is a briefing published this morning by Joaquín Navarro Valls, director of the Vatican press office, on the activities in the wake of John Paul II’s death.

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First and Second General Congregations of the Cardinals

The first two General Congregations of the Cardinals in the period of Vacant See were held this morning in the Bologna Room of the Vatican Apostolic Palace according to the norms of the Apostolic Constitution “Universi Dominici Gregis” (UDG).

Sixty-five cardinals took part in the First Congregation which began at 10 a.m. They swore an oath according to [paragraph] 12 of UDG.

In the second General Congregation, the 65 cardinals present made the most urgent decisions, including the mode of transferring the body of the deceased Pontiff to the Vatican Basilica, and the date of the funeral Mass for John Paul II.

Also present at this morning’s General Congregations were Archbishops Leonardo Sandri, substitute at the Secretariat of State, Francesco Monterisi, the secretary of the College of Cardinals, and Piero Marini, master of papal liturgical ceremonies, and several ceremonial assistants.

Transfer of the Body of John Paul II

At 5 p.m. today, Monday, April 4, the body of John Paul II will be moved from the Clementine Hall to the Vatican Basilica.

After a moment of prayer presided over by Cardinal Camerlengo Eduardo Martínez Somalo, the transfer of the body will begin.

The procession will proceed along the Scala Nobile, the First Loggia, the Sala Ducale, the Sala Regia, the Scala Regia and then, coming through the Bronze Door, it will cross St. Peter’s Square and enter the basilica by the central doors.

In the Vatican basilica, the Cardinal Camerlengo will preside at the Liturgy of the Word.

The visits of the faithful can begin at around 8 p.m.

For today it has been decided that the Vatican basilica will remain open all night. It will close only from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. in order to allow for the technical maintenance of the basilica.

Funeral Mass for John Paul II

The funeral Mass for John Paul II will be celebrated on Friday, April 8, at 10 a.m. in the atrium of the Vatican basilica.

The funeral liturgy will be celebrated by the cardinals and the patriarchs of the Eastern Churches. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, will preside.

At the end of the liturgy, the casket of the Roman Pontiff will be brought into the Vatican basilica and then into the Vatican Grottoes for burial.

[Navarro Valls noted that the body of John Paul II will rest in the same place where Blessed Pope John XXIII was entombed. The remains of that Pontiff, who died in 1963, were moved from the grottos to the Vatican basilica on June 3, 2001, nine months after his beatification.]

Next General Congregations

The next General Congregations of Cardinals, as of tomorrow morning, will take place in the New Synod Hall starting at 10 a.m.

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