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Cardinals hear preacher on challenges for new pope

At their general congregation meeting yesterday, the College of Cardinals heard the preacher to the pontifical household deliver the first of two scheduled meditations on the state of the Church, as preparation for their deliberations in the coming conclave.

Catholic World News reports that Fr Raniero Cantalamessa addressed the cardinals, gathered for the daily meeting in the Synod Hall at the apostolic palace.

The Capuchin preacher had been chosen by the cardinals, at their 7 April meeting, to deliver one of the two meditations prescribed by Universi Dominici Gregis. That apostolic constitution, issued by Pope John Paul II, directs that prior to the conclave, the cardinals should give "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 Cantalamessa preached to all the cardinals who are present in Rome, including those who, because they have reached the age of 80, are no longer eligible to participate in a papal election. The Vatican press office announced that 142 cardinals were present for the Thursday meeting.

The proceedings of the cardinals' congregations are confidential, and the Vatican did not disclose details about the content of Fr Cantalamessa's address. The press office did disclose, however, that after hearing the meditation, the cardinals "resumed an exchange of ideas on the situation of the Church and the world." The congregation meetings of the next few days give the cardinals who are over 80 their last opportunity to offer their advice to the cardinal-electors before the conclave begins.

During yesterday's congregation meeting, the cardinal-electors drew lots to determine their room assignments in the St. Martha residence, where they will stay during the conclave.

The congregation also elected new members to serve alongside the camerlengo in the "particular congregation" that handles minor administrative details for the operation of the Holy See during the interregnum. The camerlengo, remains on the particular congregation; the other three members are appointed for three-day periods.

Cardinals hear preacher on challenges for new Pontiff (Catholic World News 14/4/05)

P. Raniero Cantalamessa Home Page

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15 Apr 2005