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.
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

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid