The cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church are moving closer to setting a date for the conclave to choose a successor to Pope Benedict XVI, but no date has been selected just yet.
The group has discussed changes to conclave rules, and as Vatican New York Times reporter Rachel Donadio notes, “it sounds like they’re divided over the when to start the conclave.”
Vatican spokesman Rev. Thomas Rosica says there is “no desire to hasten this process” and “no indication it will be announced tomorrow either.”
The cardinals met Monday night and again Tuesday morning at the pope’s audience hall, where they signed up to speak to the group on various issues facing the church. They decided not to meet Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday afternoon.
When asked how cardinals collect information, a Vatican spokesman said “their free time is theirs." They are still waiting for five cardinals called “electors,” cardinals under the age of 80, to arrive in Rome.
In today’s morning meeting, the topics discussed included “the activity of the Holy See” and “the situation of the church” which clearly point to recent scandals from Vati-leaks to the priest sex abuse crisis. The issues are front and center for the cardinals and will play a key role in selecting who leads the 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.
The group plans to gather for a special prayer Wednesday night at St. Peter’s at 5 p.m. Rome time with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals, leading the way. They’re hoping this will unite them with Roman Catholics throughout the world to pray for the next leader.
The cardinals also have sent Benedict a letter expressing their gratitude.
As for voting, the cardinals will use three urns used in 2005, one where ballots are deposited, one for counted ballots and one where sick cardinals put their ballots.
The number of reporters has increased to nearly 5,000 in Rome to cover the historic event from 64 different countries.