Last General Congregation before the Conclave

Vatican City, 11 March 2013 (VIS) – In this morning’s 10th and final General Congregation 152 Cardinals were in attendance. Three new members for the Particular Congregation were picked by lot to assist the Cardinal Camerlengo for the next three days in the lesser affairs of the proceedings. The Cardinal assistants chosen were: from the Order of Bishops, Cardinal Antonios Naguib, patriarch emeritus of Alexandria, Egypt; from the Order of Priests, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; and from the Order of Deacons, Cardinal Francesco Monterisi, archpriest emeritus of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls.

“Twenty-eight cardinals spoke today,” Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office reported, “bringing the total number of interventions given during the course of the 10 General Congregations to 161. There was a wide participation, even if some other cardinals would have liked to participate or to speak again. It was, however, decided not to have another Congregation this afternoon in light of the move to the Domus Sanctae Marthae and the preparations for the Conclave.”

This morning, among other topics, the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) was discussed. “Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, as president of the Commission of Cardinals for oversight of the IOR, presented the current operations of that commission to those present along with the process for adopting the norms of transparency that it has established. Naturally, much was also said about the expectations and hopes for the future Holy Father.”

Fr. Lombardi then provided some information about events that will take place in the next few days.

Around 90 auxiliary personnel will take the oath of secrecy this afternoon at 5:30pm in the Pauline Chapel. The Cardinal Camerlengo will receive the oaths of these persons who will assist in meeting the personal and official needs connected with the election process. (We provide a list of those involved in a separate article below.)

The “pro eligendo Romano Pontifice” Mass will be celebrated in the Vatican Basilica tomorrow, 12 March, at 10:00am. The booklet for the Mass is available on the Vatican website under the section of the Office for Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff. The liturgy will be presided by Cardinal Dean Angelo Sodano and concelebrated by all the cardinals, including the non-voters. During the offertory, a motet (choral musical composition) by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina will be heard.

Beginning tomorrow, Vatican Television will have a camera fixed on the chimney of the Sistine Chapel to capture the images of the “fumate”.

On their seats in the Sistine Chapel, the Cardinal electors will find the Apostolic Constitution “Universi Dominici Gregis”, the “Ordo Rituum Conclavis” (Book of Rites of the Conclave), and a book of the Liturgy of the Hours.

The director of the Holy See Press Office also summarized the final acts of the Conclave as regulated by that text. “If a cardinal gets two-thirds of the vote—the required amount for an election—the Cardinal Dean of the assembly, in this case Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, asks ‘Do you accept your canonical election as Supreme Pontiff?’ After receiving the consent of the one elected he then asks, “By what name do you wish to be called?” Then the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, acting as notary and having two masters of ceremonies as witnesses who are called in at that time, records the new Pope’s acceptance and chosen name. He then proceeds to burn the ballots for the white “fumata” (smoke signalling the election). The new Pope then dresses in the “Room of Tears”—perhaps so-called because of the emotion of the moment. When he returns to the Chapel a Gospel passage connected to the Petrine ministry is read, a brief prayer is given, and the cardinals process, one-by-one to the new pontiff, congratulating him and promising their obedience. The Pope and the cardinals sing the Te Deum together.”

“There is a new aspect to this Conclave,” Fr. Lombardi noted. “The Pope, before going to the balcony at the centre of St. Peter’s Basilica, will stop at the Pauline Chapel to pray before the Blessed Sacrament for a few moments. Then he will go out onto the loggia and greet those gathered with the “Urbi et Orbe” blessing.

Regarding the opening Mass of the new pontificate, Fr. Lombardi explained that it does not have to be celebrated on Sunday, but could occur any day of the week.

Finally, he clarified that the Prefect of the Papal Household, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the Pope emeritus’ personal secretary, will attend the ceremony of the beginning of the Conclave, as foreseen by his defined duties.

Vatican Information Service

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