On the first day of Sede Vacante, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, has sent out a letter summoning the cardinals to the first General Congregation, which will begin on Monday, March 4th at the Synod of Bishops Hall. A second General Congregation will take place in the afternoon.
In conformity with the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis, the General Congregations are held prior to the beginning of the conclave. The constitution states that “all cardinals who are not legitimately impeded must attend the General Congregations, once they have been informed of the vacancy of the Apostolic See.”
Citing no. 19 of the Apostolic Constitution, Cardinal Sodano stated that as Dean of the College of Cardinals, he is performing his duty to communicate officially to “the news of the vacancy of the Apostolic See due to the resignation presented by Pope Benedict XVI, and effective since yesterday evening, February 28, at 8:00 pm in Rome.”
The Dean of the College of Cardinals went on to inform the Cardinals of the date, place and time of the first congregation on Monday.
“The General Congregations will then continue regularly, until the complete number of Cardinal electors has been reached and the College of Cardinals then decides the date of entrance into Conclave of those Cardinal electors as prescribed by the recent Motu Proprio of this past 22 February concerning some changes to the rules regarding the election of the Roman Pontiff,” the letter continued.
During a press briefing today, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, said that there is no information yet as to how many cardinals are present in Rome at the moment because many are still arriving. Fr. Lombardi also stated that it is highly unlikely that a date on the start of the conclave will be announced after Monday’s meetings.
— — —
On ZENIT’s web page:
For the full text of Cardinal Sodano’s letter, go to: