Cardinals Hear Meditation on Church and World

Father Cantalamessa Delivers Talk

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 14, 2005 ( Father Raniero Cantalamessa, until recently the preacher to the Pontifical Household, led a meditation for cardinals on “the problems of the Church and the enlightened choice of the new Pontiff.”

The Capuchin’s talk today to the cardinals preparing for the conclave was in accord with the 1996 apostolic constitution “Universi Dominici Gregis” (UDG). That document spells out norms for when the Apostolic See is vacant and for the election of a new pope.

No. 13 of UDG establishes that, in the general congregations held by the cardinals before the conclave, the task of delivering meditations on the state of the Church and the world must be entrusted “to two ecclesiastics known for their sound doctrine, wisdom and moral authority.”

The next meditation will be given Monday, the day the conclave begins. Cardinal Tomas Spidlik, 85, a non-elector, will deliver that meditation.

After the meditation led by Father Cantalamessa, “the cardinals dedicated a period of time to silence and prayer,” according to a press statement published by Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls.

In all, 142 cardinal electors and non-electors attended the general congregation this morning, the 10th since the death of Pope John Paul II on April 2.

During the meeting, after drawing lots, the three new assistant cardinals were named who, with the chamberlain, Cardinal Eduardo Martínez Somalo, make up the Particular Congregation for three days. The Particular Congregation handles ordinary affairs of the Apostolic See.

The three new assistant cardinals are Giovanni Battista Re, until the Pope’s death the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; and Crescenzio Sepe, until now prefect of the Congregation of the Evangelization of Peoples.

Navarro Valls also disclosed that lots were drawn for the assignments of the rooms the cardinals will occupy during the conclave in Domus Sanctae Marthae, the guesthouse within the Vatican walls.

It is expected that 115 cardinals will take part in the conclave.

“Following several clarifications on the interpretation of the apostolic constitution ‘Universi Dominici Gregis,’ the cardinals resumed an exchange of ideas on the situation of the Church and the world,” reported Navarro Valls.

The debates taking place in these congregations are not being made public.

Given that last Saturday the cardinals decided by unanimity not to grant interviews, recent press reports about the votes that cardinals might receive in the conclave, are based on journalistic guesswork.

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