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World’s cardinals to gather in Rome on March 1 before conclave

Conclave of Cardinals will be called 15 to 20 days after Holy Father steps down on February 28; Pope Benedict XVI tells priests "I will always be close to all of you... even if I remain hidden to the world"

The world’s cardinals, including Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrew’s and Edinburgh, will gather in Rome on March 1, the day after the Pope’s resignation becomes effective, to begin discussions on the future needs of the Church.

All cardinals—including those who are over 80 and ineligible to vote in a Papal election—can join in these discussions. These early meetings will set a date for the conclave, which is expected to be between 15 to 20 days after Pope Benedict XVI officially steps down on February 28.

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, went public with this information yesterday.

There will be 117 cardinal-electors eligible to vote in the papal conclave next month. There are currently 118 cardinal-electors, but one—Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, the retired Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, will celebrate his 80th birthday on February 26, before the Holy father steps down, and thus become ineligible to participate in the conclave. Two other cardinals could turn 80 before the conclave begins sometime in mid-March, but the rules of the conclave stipulate that a cardinal becomes ineligible only if he turns 80 before the Papacy becomes vacant.

Fr Lombard also confirmation of reports that Pope Benedict XVI suffered a minor head injury during his trip to Mexico last yearbut the spokesman that the incident was a factor in the Pope’s decision to resign.

It is expected that Archbishop Georg Ganswein, who has served for years as the private secretary to Pope Benedict, will continue to live with the Holy retires after his retirement but the archbishop, recently appointed as prefect of the pontifical household, will continue to serve in that role as well.

Yesterday the Holy Father told a told a meeting of Roman priests: “Even if I am withdrawing into prayer, I will always be close to all of you… even if I remain hidden to the world.”


Pic: Above, Holy Father with Cardinal Vallini at yesterday’s meeting with Roman priests.


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