· On the morning of 4 March ·
On Monday, 4 March, in the Synod Hall of the Vatican the First General Congregation of the Cardinals took place. The congregation was presided by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, in the presence of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Camerlengo, and of Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary of the College of Cardinals. It began around 9:30 a.m. and 142 prelates participated, including 103 of the 117 electors. In fact Cardinal Darmaatmadja, Cardinal O’Brien, Cardinal Naguib, Cardinal Raï, Cardinal Meisner, Cardinal Rouco Varela, Cardinal Grocholewski, Cardinal Lehmann, Cardinal Pham Minh Mân, Cardinal Sarr, Cardinal Nycz, Cardinal Duka, Cardinal Woelki and Cardinal Tong Hon, were not present.
Following the opening prayer Cardinal Sodano spoke, inviting the prelates to a reflection and prayer. The Dean then proposed to send a message of greeting to Benedict XVI, a suggestion which was approved by the College of Cardinals. He also underlined the meeting's importance for knowledge of the situation of the Church and the world, as well as the need to identify the ideal figure of a pope or pontiff who would be best suited to this situation.
The Cardinal then took their oath, as provided for by paragraph 12 of the Apostolic Constitution Universi dominici gregis . Then the names of three cardinals were drawn, naming the three assistants to the Cardinal Camerlengo to make up the Particular Congregation: Cardinal Re for the order of Bishops, Cardinal Sepe for the order of priests, and Cardinal Rodé for the order of deacons. Thirteen speeches followed.
The Second General Congregation to be held on Monday afternoon, 4 March, the Capuchin Friar Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher of the Papal Household, will give a meditation to the Cardinals.
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