Final cardinal arrives for conclave
on 07/03/2013 21:39:34
One US cardinal said a decision on the start date is expected soon.
Some American and other cardinals had said they wanted to continue the pre-conclave meetings that have been going on all week for as long as it takes so they can discern who among them has the stuff to be pope and discuss the problems of the church.
Some Vatican-based cardinals, defensive about criticisms of the Vatican's internal governance that have been aired recently, seemed to want to get on with the vote arguing there is no reason to delay.
"Hopefully it will be a short conclave and start very soon," Vatican-based German Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes was quoted as telling the German daily Bild. "I would compare it with a visit to the dentist - you want to get everything over with quickly."
This afternoon, US Cardinal Roger Mahony tweeted that the discussions were "reaching a conclusion".
"Setting of date for conclave nearing. Mood of excitement prevails among Cardinals," he wrote.
Once the conclave starts, there is very little time for discussion. Cardinals take two votes in the morning, two votes in the afternoon - all of them conducted in silent prayer, not chatter, amid the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel. As a result, setting the date for the start of the conclave is akin to setting the deadline for when pre-conclave deliberations will finish.
These discussions are designed to give cardinals a chance to get to know one another better and dive into the problems confronting the church and who among them is best suited to fix them.
Today, for example, cardinals received a briefing on the Holy See's finances amid questions about the administration of the Vatican bureaucracy and continued suspicions about the Vatican bank.
As such, "it seems very normal and very wise" to wait to set the conclave date until all cardinals are confident that they are nearing an end to their deliberations, said the Vatican spokesman the Rev Federico Lombardi.
The arrival in Rome today of Vietnamese Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man, however, signalled at least that a vote could be taken on a start date now that all 115 cardinal electors are in place.
He entered the Vatican auditorium for this afternoon's session without speaking to reporters. No vote on a conclave date was taken, Rev Lombardi said.
For the fourth day in a row, discussions included questions about the Holy See's administration and its relationships with dioceses around the world amid complaints that the Holy See does not communicate well, internally or externally.
The problems of the Holy See's internal governance have been a constant theme of deliberations this week as cardinals - especially from the United States - have sought information about allegations of corruption, turf wars and cronyism that were exposed by the leaks of papal documents last year.
Rev Lombardi said the financial briefing by the heads of the Vatican's economic affairs office, the administration of the Vatican City State, and the department overseeing the Holy See's assets and personnel was designed to give the cardinals an early peek at the Holy See's financial reports, which usually come out in July.
Such a financial briefing is called for by the rules governing the period between papacies, specifically to give the cardinals a full picture of the state of the Holy See.