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A hundred and fifteen cardinal electors

· The motives for the absence of two prelates accepted ·

The seventh General Congregation of Cardinals took place on Friday morning, 8 March, in the Synod Hall. The session, taking place between 9:30 and 12:30, was attended by 153 cardinals, including all 115 electors of the 117 entitled: Cardinals Darmaatmadja and O'Brien have given their excuses. At the start of the congregation the reasons for the two cardinals' absence were reviewed. In accordance with n. 38 of Universi dominici gregis , the College of Cardinals voted to accept those causes – that of health in the first case and for personal reasons in the second – that impeded their participation.

Successively, the dean Angelo Sodano, taking note of the situation, recognized the possibility using n. 37 of the apostolic constitution cited above, modified by Benedict XVI's recent Motu Proprio Normas nonnullas , to move the opening date of the conclave up.

Then 18 interventions followed. They touched upon broad and varied topics: such as, interreligious dialogue, culture today, bioethics, justice on the global scale, Christianity as a proposal of love and joy, the proclamation of divine mercy, and the governing of the Church, in particular of collegiality. The 8th of March also offered those present the occasion to discuss the role of women in the Church. In total there have been over a hundred interventions to now. Yesterday afternoon, Thursday 7, the six congregation took place, with 151 present and 16 interventions.

Friday afternoon, 8 March, the Cardinals are meeting in the Synod Hall for the 8th time. In this congregation “it is very likely” that the date for the start of the Conclave will be set. This was said by the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr Federico Lombardy, who also reported that the preaching in the Sistine Chapel will be entrusted to Cardinal non-elector Prosper Grech, the Maltese Augustinian.

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