VATICAN CITY, APRIL 7, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The general congregation of cardinals chose the two preachers who will present key meditations to exhort the conclave: Cardinal Tomas Spidlik and Father Raniero Cantalamessa.
In the 1996 apostolic constitution “Universi Dominici Gregis,” which establishes the norms for the vacant See, John Paul II said of the cardinals: “They shall entrust to two ecclesiastics known for their sound doctrine, wisdom and moral authority the task of presenting to the Cardinals two well-prepared meditations on the problems facing the Church at the time and on the need for careful discernment in choosing the new Pope.”
“Father Raniero Cantalamessa will give his intervention on Thursday, April 14, during the general congregation of the morning,” a Holy See press statement announced today. “Cardinal Tomas Spidlik, S.J., will address the cardinals in the Sistine Chapel on Monday, April 18.”
Cardinal Spidlik, who is 85, is too old to participate in the conclave.
Father Cantalamessa, 70, is a Franciscan Capuchin. He previously was a professor of history of ancient Christianity and director of the department of religious sciences at the Catholic University of Milan. He was a member of the International Theological Commission from 1975 to 1981.
In 1980 he was appointed by Pope John Paul II as preacher to the Pontifical Household.
Tomas Spidlik was born in Boskovice, Czech Republic. He was ordained a priest in August 1949 and made his final profession as a Jesuit in February 1958.
In 1938 he began his studies of philosophy, but because of the Nazi occupation, he was forced to abandon those studies and to work. Again between 1942 and 1945 he continued his studies, but with interruptions due to forced labor. Later he became prefect of the secondary school of Velehrad, where he taught the Czech and Russian languages.
Since 1951 he has been a collaborator with Vatican Radio. He was a lecturer at the Pontifical Oriental Institute and taught courses at the Gregorian University. He is known for his preaching of spiritual retreats, and in 1995 he led the retreat for the Pope and the Roman Curia.
Cardinal Spidlik has served as a consultor of the Vatican congregations for Sainthood Causes and for the Eastern Churches.