Monday morning meeting of the Congregation of the Cardinals

The first General Congregation of the College of Cardinals began at 9:30am this morning in the new Synod Hall.

Leading the meeting, at the head table, were Cardinal Dean Angelo Sodano, accompanied by Cardinal Camerlengo Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., and the Secretary of the College, Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri.

The members of the College took their seats in the room following the hierarchical order of precedence (Order of Cardinal-bishops, Order of Cardinal-priests, and Order of Cardinal-deacons).

After the opening prayers (Veni Sancte Spiritus; Adsumus) and the technical instructions regarding the count of those present and the voting process, the Cardinal Dean took the floor to greet those gathered, noting the great importance of this event before the Church and the world.

The oath was then sworn in the manner prescribed in No. 12 of the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis. The common formula of the oath was read aloud by the Dean in Latin. Then, each of the cardinals, according to the order of precedence, advanced to personally swear the oath before the Crucifix and with their hand upon the Gospels. The oath-taking process took up a good portion of the meeting’s time.

The 142 cardinals present, of which 103 were Cardinal electors, took the oath.

The Particular Congregation was then established with the drawing by lots of the three assistants to the Cardinal Camerlengo (cf. No. 7, Universi Dominici Gregis). The three cardinals picked were: Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re (Order of Bishops); Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe (Order of Priests), and; Cardinal Franc Rodé (Order of Deacons). After their election these three also took their places next to the Camerlengo at the head table.

It is expected that Fr. Cantalamessa, the preacher of the Pontifical Household, will hold the first of the meditations provided for by the Apostolic Constitution this afternoon.

The Cardinal Dean’s proposal to send a message of greeting and gratitude to His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pope emeritus, was approved.

During the course of the Congregation there was a break of about half an hour between 11:15am and 11:45am.

In the last part of the Congregation, 13 Cardinals addressed the gathering freely, mainly regarding questions on the process of the proceedings and the questions to be faced, also bearing in mind the results of the latest Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization.

The Second General Congregations is called for this afternoon from 5:00pm to 7:00pm.

Vatican Press Office

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