Date of Conclave Is Still Undecided

Pope’s Testament Not Yet Read by Cardinals

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 5, 2005 ( The cardinals have yet to read John Paul II’s testament and to decide the date of the conclave to elect a new pope.

At a press conference, after the third general congregation of cardinals, held this morning, Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls revealed that details were discussed of the Pope’s funeral on Friday, as well as “elements connected to the future of the conclave.”

The spokesman reported that at present there are 91 cardinals in Rome, but three were absent from this morning’s meeting. “So the number of those present in the synod’s new hall was 88,” he said.

“Today there are no specific decisions to be communicated,” he said. “The [Pope’s] testament was not read in the hall.”

Navarro Valls could not confirm if there were other documents left by the Pope until they are read to the general congregation of cardinals. “Afterward, all or an important part will be given to the press,” he indicated.

The director of the Vatican press office confirmed that John Paul II will be interred in the earth, as he desired, in the place where Blessed Pope John XXIII was buried, and a headstone will be placed over his mortal remains.

Navarro Valls said the Pope’s body has not been embalmed. “Of course it has been prepared, as it will be in the basilica for several days, but it has not been embalmed.” He did not elaborate.

Before closing the coffin, the Holy Father’s face will be covered with a white silk veil, in the moments preceding the funeral, said Archbishop Piero Marini, master of pontifical liturgical celebrations.

The director of the Vatican press office explained as well that for the time being “the precise date of the conclave has not been decided,” which, according to what is established, must begin between 15 and 20 days after the Pope’s death. John Paul II died April 2.

Finally, Navarro Valls pointed out that the name has not been disclosed of the cardinal whom John Paul II created “in pectore,” that is, in secret.

His name might be written in the Pope’s testament or in another document. If the Pope has not disclosed his name, he will not be able to participate in the conclave.

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