Martedì, 18 Settembre 2018

Pope 'serene' as Rome braces for conclave


Rome, February 19 - Pope Benedict XVI appeared to
be in a calm state of mind on Tuesday, the third day of a
week-long Lenten retreat he entered after announcing he will
step down as pontiff last week, while Church officials, city
administrators in Rome and the Catholic world at large braced
for a series of events leading up to the election of his
The outgoing pope is doing a series of spiritual exercises
along with other senior Church figures at the Vatican's
Apostolic Palace until Saturday.
The exercises have been prepared by the president of the
pontifical council for culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, who
is posting details about them via Twitter.
Two of Tuesday's meditations, for example, focused on the
figure of the Messiah as interpreted in several Psalms.
People who met the pope during the retreat said he seemed
serene and relaxed, while at the same time attentive and
concentrated on the exercises, Vatican sources said.
Meanwhile Rome's hoteliers braced for a deluge of visitors
to the city during the conclave of cardinals to elect a new pope
next month.
Roughly 10,000 more people than normal are expected to
flock to Rome's hotels in that period, according to the head of
Rome's hoteliers' association.
"That translates to 10% more than a typical March," said
Rome Federalberghi President Giuseppe Roscioli after a meeting
Friday with Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno. "There are about 100,000
hotel beds available in Rome, so we'll have no accomodation
problems. In any event this is low season. Reservations are
already being made, especially around the Vatican".
The Vatican has yet to announce a date for the start of the
conclave, making it difficult for out-of-towners to plan.
It is expected to commence mid-March, possibly in time to
install a pope before the start of Holy Week on March 24, Palm
Meanwhile American Cardinal Roger Mahony sparked protest
from a large number of Catholics Tuesday when he suggested that
he planned to attend the conclave despite a growing scandal over
his alleged role in covering up sex abuse by priests in his
former Los Angeles archdiocese.
The deluge of opposition found expression on social
networks and media blogs after the 76-year-old ex-archbishop
posted a message on his Twitter account asking for prayer so
that "we might elect the best pope for the Church of today and
tomorrow" following the resignation of Benedict XVI with effect
from the end of this month.
"#Mahony Cardinal, please, stay home!" said one Twitter
user, using a hashtag to identify the word Mahony as a trending
topic. #Mahony voting for a new pope rankles some Catholics. I
can see why!" said another.
Mahony will be questioned under oath February 23 about how
he handled Father Nicolas Aguilar Rivera, a visiting Mexican
priest who allegedly molested 26 children in the Los Angeles
archdiocese in 1987 during his tenure.
The deposition Saturday will be the first since a court
order forced the archdiocese to release thousands of pages of
confidential files on over 120 priests accused of sex abuse,
showing how Mahony and other top officials shielded them in
order to contain the scandal.
Earlier Tuesday Cardinal Velasio De Paolis said only a
person in high authority could advise Mahony not to attend the
However numerous Catholics said they hoped the cardinal
might have the "good taste" to step aside.
In response to an online poll launched by the influential
Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana on Monday some believers
however defended the position of the former archbishop, arguing
that the outcome of a conclave is led by the Holy Spirit and
that alleged 'sinners' should be allowed to attend.
Many Vatican experts suspect that the numerous
priest-sex-abuse scandals were among the reasons behind
Benedict's decision to retire.
The pope, 85, said Monday that his "strengths, due to an
advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of
the Petrine ministry".
Top French cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran on Tuesday applauded
Benedict XVI's decision and called for a young successor to the
throne of St Peter.
Speaking with French agency I.Media, Tauran said the
outgoing pope's decision to step down showed "great moral
The new pope, he said, should be "young", a man of
"dialogue", and he should be capable of imparting "the contents
of Church teaching" and of launching a reform of the Roman Curia
"to make it more coordinated".
When asked how young the pope should be, Tauran said "more
or less 65, but also 70 if he's in good health".
Tauran, 69, is the president of the Pontifical Council for
Interreligious Dialogue and is considered one of the most
influential members of the upcoming conclave to elect a new
In his role as senior cardinal-deacon, Tauran is in charge
of introducing the new pope on the balcony of St. Peter's with
the famous Latin words 'Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum: habemus
papam'. (I announce to you a great joy: We have a pope).

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