Cardinals not in a hurry to set conclave start date?

posted at 4:01 pm on March 4, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

I’m heading out to Rome to cover the papal conclave, and it seems that I will arrive in plenty of time, at least at the moment.  I set my travel schedule to land on Friday March 8th, in anticipation that the conclave might start on the 11th, the following Monday.  However, as today launches the official start of the conclave process, Cindy Wooden of Catholic News Service reports that not all of the voting cardinals have even arrived yet — and the cardinals present appear more inclined to take their time rather than rush into the conclave:

The College of Cardinals began their formal pre-conclave meetings March 4 with 142 members present, 103 of whom are under the age of 80 and eligible to enter the conclave to vote for a new pope.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said the cardinals did not set a date for the conclave to begin and were unlikely to set a date until the 115 cardinal-electors expected were all present and until the cardinals felt confident they knew how much time they wanted for discussions beforehand. …

The cardinal-electors missing from the first congregation, he said, were Cardinals Antonios Naguib, former Coptic Catholic patriarch; Bechara Rai, Maronite patriarch; Joachim Meisner of Cologne, Germany; Antonio Maria Rouco Varela of Madrid; Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education; Karl Lehmann of Mainz, Germany; Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Theodore-Adrien Sarr of Dakar, Senegal; Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw, Poland; Dominik Duka of Prague, Czech Republic; Rainer Maria Woelki of Berlin; and John Tong Hon of Hong Kong.

Only two voting-eligible cardinals have informed the Vatican that they will not attend the conclave, one of whom is Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien.  O’Brien retired and withdrew from public life after admitting to allegations of sexual impropriety over the weekend. The other is a retired bishop from Jakarta. Otherwise, the Vatican expects everyone else to eventually arrive.

CBS News spoke with Delia Gallagher of Inside the Vatican, who confirms that the cardinals are sending signals that they may wait a few days longer than first thought to start the conclave. First, Gallagher says, the College of Cardinals want enough time to discuss the needs of the Catholic Church in order to ensure that they choose the candidate who can best address those challenges, including scandals but also the need for robust evangelization and the question of reforming the Curia:

If the idea is for all the cardinals to be heard before setting the date for the conclave, it might be a while before they set the date. However, the pressing need for a smooth transition and the pressure to avoid giving the impression of an impasse will probably mean that the start date will still be sometime next week, if not as early as Monday.


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Until Catholic Church excommunicates Nancy Pelosi and her like, they are a Devil’s BFF to me.

Archivarix on March 4, 2013 at 4:04 PM

Happy travels and travails, Ed.

Schadenfreude on March 4, 2013 at 4:06 PM

I’d like to see a new Papa by Easter, but we’re not going by my watch, we’re going by God’s watch.

thebrokenrattle on March 4, 2013 at 4:06 PM

Ed: taking the missus with you?

Safe travels… I’ll be ignoring the LSM and reading YOUR reports..

Khun Joe on March 4, 2013 at 4:14 PM

And somehow, Cardinal Mahony gets invited. Disgraceful.

mythicknight on March 4, 2013 at 4:15 PM

Ed – Hope you and the 1st Mate enjoy your time in Europe. Rome in early spring – sounds good to me!

johnnybgood on March 4, 2013 at 4:16 PM

Until Catholic Church excommunicates Nancy Pelosi and her like, they are a Devil’s BFF to me.

Archivarix on March 4, 2013 at 4:04 PM

Joe Biden, Father Pfleger… The Catholic Church is rotten with progressives.

tdarrington on March 4, 2013 at 4:18 PM

Will Cardinal Bernard Law be voting? They have him stashed there in Rome I read.

dogsoldier on March 4, 2013 at 4:20 PM

What a great opportunity to witness Mr. Morrissey. Will be keeping a close eye on EWTN and of course your comments.

fourdeucer on March 4, 2013 at 4:22 PM

Joe Biden, Father Pfleger… The Catholic Church is rotten with progressives.

Like many a union or our CONgress, both of which hesitates to remove problem members, the church probably hesitates to remove progressive members simply because of mere disagreement on certain points of doctrine and thus self administer a decline in membership.

Maybe church leadership is hoping and praying for repentance so these erring members can stay within the fold.

hawkeye54 on March 4, 2013 at 4:24 PM

Until Catholic Church excommunicates Nancy Pelosi and her like, they are a Devil’s BFF to me.

Archivarix on March 4, 2013 at 4:04 PM

By her actions and her public sin, she has excommunicated herself. The Church doesn’t have to do it to her. It’s called automatic excommunication. Every time she receives communion, instead of receiving grace, she’s incurring condemnation.

Ward Cleaver on March 4, 2013 at 4:25 PM

Joe Biden, Father Pfleger… The Catholic Church is rotten with progressives.

tdarrington on March 4, 2013 at 4:18 PM

That’s like condemning America, because they’re Americans.

Ward Cleaver on March 4, 2013 at 4:26 PM

That’s like condemning America, because they’re Americans.

Good point.

hawkeye54 on March 4, 2013 at 4:30 PM

That’s like condemning America, because they’re Americans.

Ward Cleaver on March 4, 2013 at 4:26 PM

Except that progressivism and social justice are the antithesis of Christianity. I condemn the Catholic church for being full of progressives, embracing the social justice philosophy in many parishes, and condoning such activity in the organization.

tdarrington on March 4, 2013 at 4:31 PM

And somehow, Cardinal Mahony gets invited. Disgraceful.

mythicknight on March 4, 2013 at 4:15 PM

Unfortunately. Even though he’s been censured by his successor (who’s also his superior, even though he’s not a cardinal), and could end up in prison, he is still eligible to vote. If you believe that the Holy Spirit guides the process, then his vote either won’t make a difference, or will he be guided to vote for the right candidate. There have been some pretty rotten popes who have done some pretty rotten things (like the Borgias), but they have have never made a bad decision when speaking ex cathedra.

Ward Cleaver on March 4, 2013 at 4:34 PM

Will Cardinal Bernard Law be voting? They have him stashed there in Rome I read.

dogsoldier on March 4, 2013 at 4:20 PM

Not voting, because he’s over 80 years old and thus ineligible to vote. I don’t know whether he’s in the pre-conclave meetings, but he very well might be.

J.S.K. on March 4, 2013 at 4:35 PM

However, the pressing need for a smooth transition and the pressure to avoid giving the impression of an impasse will probably mean that the start date will still be sometime next week, if not as early as Monday.

I don’t understand this line you keep pushing about a “pressing need,” Ed. The Catholic Church is bigger than any one man, even the Pope. We’re not talking about being without a Pope for the next year. We’re talking about whether or not the cardinals slow down by maybe a few days or a week to give themselves more time to discern the proper choice. In an era of 24/7 news and 30 second soundbites, surely some discernment can’t be a bad thing in selecting the Earthly leader of Christ’s Church, can it?

I know there is a symbolic value to having a Pope in place for Holy Week. But if he’s not, the Church will go on. Christ still sacrificed Himself on the cross from us, and rose on the third day. And we Catholics will still, in churches throughout the world, commemorate those wondrous events. I would rather have the best possible choice for the job than rush into a decision simply because of Holy Week.

Shump on March 4, 2013 at 4:38 PM

The Cardinals should take the time they need regardless of what the Media says.

Look forward to your coverage of the conclave Ed & Godspeed on your trip.

workingclass artist on March 4, 2013 at 4:39 PM

I don’t understand this line you keep pushing about a “pressing need,” Ed.

But it is going to be BIG NEWS! The only thing better than talking about an impending big announcement is the big announcement. The MSM can only do location shots in Rome, speculating about the next Pope for a week, tops before short attention spans kick in. It’s not like they have a list of candidates whose lives they can dig into to expose dirty secrets.

tdarrington on March 4, 2013 at 4:43 PM

This thread will collapse into a Catholic vs. Protestant scuffle in 5, 4, 3, 2 …

OhEssYouCowboys on March 4, 2013 at 4:43 PM

I don’t understand this line you keep pushing about a “pressing need,” Ed. The Catholic Church is bigger than any one man, even the Pope.
Shump on March 4, 2013 at 4:38 PM

Vatican Time is well…different…The Conclave will move at it’s own pace as it always has.

Anyway Ed…Maybe you get to have Easter in Rome?

Lucky man.

workingclass artist on March 4, 2013 at 4:44 PM

Except that progressivism and social justice are the antithesis of Christianity. I condemn the Catholic church for being full of progressives, embracing the social justice philosophy in many parishes, and condoning such activity in the organization.

tdarrington on March 4, 2013 at 4:31 PM

Helping the poor, one of the main missions are Christians are called to do, is one thing; crossing over into socialism and liberation theology is another. Fortunately, the “P&J” (peace and justice) crowd has its zenith in the ’70s and ’80s, is now on the decline. The priests and nuns who’ve advocated such things are aging, and the new generation of priests and religious coming along now are more orthodox (thank goodness).

The orders of women religious that are liberal (the pantsuit nuns) are the ones that aren’t attracting new members, while the ones that are flourishing and attracting young women are the ones that are orthodox and faithful to the teaching of the Church. It may seem like the Church is full of P&Js, but that’s not the case; they’re just the ones who are attracting attention to themselves (like the “Nuns On The Bus”), and the liberal media is only too happy to give it to them, because it works divides people and confuse the faithful.

Ward Cleaver on March 4, 2013 at 4:45 PM

The Catholic Church should man up and elect the first female Pope. This is the era for unprecedented elections, lets get this one out of the way before it gets too divisive.

BobMbx on March 4, 2013 at 4:45 PM

New Headline – “Media sad that the Catholic Church will not select a Pope they agree with on the media’s timeline”

LincolntheHun on March 4, 2013 at 4:46 PM

This thread will collapse into a Catholic vs. Protestant scuffle in 5, 4, 3, 2 …

OhEssYouCowboys on March 4, 2013 at 4:43 PM

I hope not. There’s more that unites us than divides us.

Ward Cleaver on March 4, 2013 at 4:47 PM

Joe Biden, Father Pfleger… The Catholic Church is rotten with progressives.

tdarrington on March 4, 2013 at 4:18 PM

Heck the whole planet is rotten with progressives. I’m not surprised some of them call themselves Catholics. It’s what progressives do. They lie.

Lily on March 4, 2013 at 4:48 PM

The Catholic Church should man up and elect the first female Pope. This is the era for unprecedented elections, lets get this one out of the way before it gets too divisive.

BobMbx on March 4, 2013 at 4:45 PM

Another Pope Joan?

That’s a joke btw…

workingclass artist on March 4, 2013 at 4:48 PM

The Catholic Church should man up and elect the first female Pope. This is the era for unprecedented elections, lets get this one out of the way before it gets too divisive.

BobMbx on March 4, 2013 at 4:45 PM

It won’t happen, and it can’t happen.

Ward Cleaver on March 4, 2013 at 4:48 PM

This thread will collapse into a Catholic vs. Protestant scuffle in 5, 4, 3, 2 …

OhEssYouCowboys on March 4, 2013 at 4:43 PM

Well, I grew up with many Catholics and pray it’s in the cards that they choose wisely their new Pope.

Christien on March 4, 2013 at 4:51 PM

This thread will collapse into a Catholic vs. Protestant scuffle in 5, 4, 3, 2 …

OhEssYouCowboys on March 4, 2013 at 4:43 PM

I hope not. There’s more that unites us than divides us.

Ward Cleaver on March 4, 2013 at 4:47 PM

Agreed.

I for one will enjoy watching History…Tradition…Sprititual combine again for the election of our next Pope.

Take your time Cardinals and Pray for Guidance.

workingclass artist on March 4, 2013 at 4:51 PM

I hope not. There’s more that unites us than divides us.

Ward Cleaver on March 4, 2013 at 4:47 PM

I prefer that Christian be the first term out of our collective mouths.

OhEssYouCowboys on March 4, 2013 at 4:53 PM

workingclass artist on March 4, 2013 at 4:48 PM

Ward Cleaver on March 4, 2013 at 4:48 PM

Just being snarky. BTW, has Panetta made any comments about allowing women to serve as Cardinals?

BobMbx on March 4, 2013 at 4:53 PM

New Headline – “Media sad that the Catholic Church will not select a Pope they agree with on the media’s timeline”

LincolntheHun on March 4, 2013 at 4:46 PM

Catholic Media excited by an opportunity to discuss and teach.

I’ll follow the conservative Catholic Media.

workingclass artist on March 4, 2013 at 4:54 PM

workingclass artist on March 4, 2013 at 4:48 PM

Ward Cleaver on March 4, 2013 at 4:48 PM

Just being snarky. BTW, has Panetta made any comments about allowing women to serve as Cardinals?

BobMbx on March 4, 2013 at 4:53 PM

I figured that which is why I snarked back with Pope Joan.

I think Panetta needs to go to confession…it’s probably been a while.

workingclass artist on March 4, 2013 at 4:55 PM

I don’t understand this line you keep pushing about a “pressing need,” Ed. The Catholic Church is bigger than any one man, even the Pope.
Shump on March 4, 2013 at 4:38 PM

True, but I’m not talking about a “pressing need” for a Pope, but for a smooth transition. That doesn’t necessarily mean fast. However, if the conclave starts going past a few days, it’s going to give the impression of division, and I don’t know any organization that likes to give that kind of impression.

I agree with your overall sentiment, though.

Ed Morrissey on March 4, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Frankly, the way I see it, the longer the conclave goes, the more likely I it is that they will follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

When the Holy Spirit speaks to your heart, it usually requires discipline, extreme faith, and submission to heed the call. Those are not easy to do. People struggle with it as they have to put aside their personal ego or feelings to follow God’s will.

I can’t imagine 70 powerful men putting aside their egos quickly. I imagine it will take some time.

On the other hand, if things go quickly, it is likely because they came into the conclave knowing who they wanted to vote for.

Nessuno on March 4, 2013 at 5:17 PM

BOOOORING!~

More of the blonde in the video and less writing.

antisense on March 4, 2013 at 5:28 PM

The next Pope should be decided by hand to hand combat, or based on a comet or something.

antisense on March 4, 2013 at 5:28 PM

Nessuno on March 4, 2013 at 5:17 PM

Good point, and an interesting perspective.

Ed Morrissey on March 4, 2013 at 7:05 PM

Ed – Blessings and have a wonderful trip. I, too, hope the First Mate can be with you.

As for the P and J – I was raised Catholic and while not a practicing one, still respect the institution. There is something about ritual, a 2000+ year old institution that still stands that is comforting.The P and J crew did a lot of damage. They hurt the Church just as most of the leftist ideology anywhere has hurt societies.

I heard from a very good source in MN that the new priests are definitely more dogma based. If the dogma is followed, that will help enormously.

now if we can just get those “social justice” Catholics to vote R.

MN J on March 4, 2013 at 8:01 PM

I’m doubting the viability of a soul, prey to human frailty, being an intercessor of God to other souls that are prey to human frailty. Souls need no intercessor to pass through Gods challenge.

BL@KBIRD on March 4, 2013 at 8:52 PM

New Headline – “Media sad that the Catholic Church will not select a Pope they agree with on the media’s timeline”

LincolntheHun on March 4, 2013 at 4:46 PM

Catholic Media excited by an opportunity to discuss and teach.

I’ll follow the conservative Catholic Media.

workingclass artist on March 4, 2013 at 4:54 PM

Yes, so will I. Best to just ignore the MSM more than usual, who know even less about Catholicism than they do about politics or history.

PatriotGal2257 on March 4, 2013 at 9:05 PM

I would rather have the best possible choice for the job than rush into a decision simply because of Holy Week.
Shump on March 4, 2013 at 4:38 PM

This.
Sure hope you can stay until the choice is made, Ed.

AesopFan on March 4, 2013 at 11:54 PM

Until Catholic Church excommunicates Nancy Pelosi and her like, they are a Devil’s BFF to me.

Archivarix on March 4, 2013 at 4:04 PM

Her Bishop has told her not to come to communion anymore.

cptacek on March 5, 2013 at 10:18 PM