The tenth and final General Congregation of Cardinals took place today in the Vatican before the start of the Conclave tomorrow. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, briefed journalists on today’s morning session, as well as details on the upcoming Conclave.
152 Cardinals were present at this morning’s congregation which began with the selection, by drawing lots, of the members of the Particular Congregation, who are selected every three days to assist the Camerlengo with his duties during the meetings.
Those selected were Patriarch Antonios Naguib, the Patriarch Emeritus of Alexandria, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregations of Bishops, and Cardinal Francesco Monterisi, Cardinal Archpriest Emeritus of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. Fr. Lombardi also stated that all three will hold their posts throughout the Conclave.
The director of the Holy See Press Office stated that 28 Cardinals spoke today, making a total of 161 interventions given throughout the General Congregation. The Cardinals voted to not hold another congregation in the afternoon, thus allowing them to prepare to move to Domus Santa Marta and prepare for Conclave.
Among the themes that were touched upon today were on the Institution of Religious Works (IOR) which was presented by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Camerlengo. Although the IOR is known by many as the “Vatican Bank”, Fr. Thomas Rosica, assistant to Fr. Lombardi for English-speaking journalists, clarified that the bank is solely one aspect of the IOR, whose foundations handle funding for various works of religion and charity.
Also discussed were the expectations, or a profile of the new Roman Pontiff, which will aid the Cardinals to select the successor of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
Final Preparations for the Conclave
Fr. Lombardi informed the journalists present that this afternoon that about 90 people, who will assist the cardinals throughout the Conclave, will take the oath of secrecy. Among them will be the secretary of the College of Cardinals, men and women religious personnel who assist in the Pontifical Sacristy, Religious confessors, and doctors and nurses. Also taking the oath are those in charge of cleaning and maintenance at Domus Santa Marta.
The directors of both the Swiss Guard and Vatican Civil Protection, or the Gendarmes, are expected to attend.
The Missa Pro Eligendo Romano Pontefice, which precedes the Conclave will begin at 10:00am. The order of the Eucharistic liturgy was made available to journalists in printed format, as well as available online on the Vatican website. Fr. Lombardi stated that the mass will be open to the general public. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, will preside the celebration, with the College of Cardinals concelebrating.
In the afternoon, at 4:30pm, the Cardinals will process from the Pauline Chapel to the Sistine Chapel. The cardinal electors will swear the oath first all together, and then individually, placing their hand on the Book of Gospels.
Prior to the conclave, Cardinal Prosper Grech, Cardinal-Deacon of Santa Maria Goretti, will deliver the meditation.