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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More