News / Europe

Conclave Start Delayed as Vatican Muzzles Cardinals

Cardinals pray at Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, March 6, 2013.Cardinals pray at Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, March 6, 2013.
x
Cardinals pray at Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, March 6, 2013.
Cardinals pray at Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, March 6, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— Vatican officials on Wednesday told cardinals gathered for the election of the next pope to stop speaking to the media, as further indications emerged that a conclave would not start early next week as had been expected.

American cardinals who had been scheduled to hold their third media briefing in as many days cancelled it less than an hour before it was to have started at Rome's North American College, where they are residing.

A spokeswoman for the American cardinals said "concern'' was expressed at Wednesday's closed-door meeting "about leaks of confidential proceedings reported in Italian newspapers."

More than 150 cardinals attended the third day of the preliminary meetings to sketch a profile for the next pope following the shock abdication of Pope Benedict last month. All but two of the 115 "cardinal electors" under the age of 80 have arrived for the meetings, the Vatican said.

In their briefings, the American cardinals did not disclose specifics, but spoke generally about the proceedings, as well as of their hopes and concerns about the state of the Catholic Church at a crucial time in its history.

The preliminary meetings are taking place as the crisis involving sexual abuse of children by priests, and inappropriate behavior among adult clerics continues to haunt the Church, and rarely has been out of the headlines.

Asked about the cancellation of the U.S. briefing, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the pre-conclave meetings, known as general congregations, had to take place in a "climate of confidentiality."

Lombardi said the preparation by the cardinals toward the conclave "is a path in which the college of cardinals reflects in order to reach a decision, in conscience, of each of the members for the election of the Roman pontiff."

Cardinals from other countries also have been speaking to the media informally on the streets near the Vatican, but the Americans were the only group holding daily formal briefings.

Sistine Chapel

The cancellation of the briefing means the only official source of information would come from a daily briefing by the Vatican spokesman.

The spokeswoman for the Americans said: "As a precaution, the [U.S.] cardinals have agreed not to do interviews."

Under Church law the cardinals have until March 20 to start a conclave to choose a new pope to lead the 1.2-billion-member Church.

While many observers had expected the conclave to begin as early as this Sunday or Monday, there have been increasing indications that the cardinals want more time to ponder who among them might be best to lead a Church beset by crises.

Several of the prelates leaving the meetings said preliminary proceedings were still at the early stages and more time would be necessary before they could decide on when to start the conclave in the Sistine Chapel.

Workmen have begun preparing the chapel, building a new, suspended floor to protect the centuries-old tiles.

Nonetheless, the Vatican spokesman said it was important that no one felt "pressured" into going into the conclave before they were ready, and that more time would be needed for "reflection."

One cardinal leaving the meeting said there had been no formal discussion on Wednesday of the so-called "Vatileaks" scandal, which led to the arrest of Paolo Gabriele, the pope's butler, further besmirching the Church's reputation.

Gabriele was convicted of stealing personal papal documents and leaking them to the media. The documents alleged corruption and infighting over the running of its bank.

A trio of elderly cardinals prepared a report on the scandal for Benedict, who later pardoned Gabriele, and a number of cardinals attending the preliminary meetings said they wanted to be briefed on the report.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid