“It is spoken very openly”

The chimney for the conclave's outcome © KNA

The College of Cardinals met in the Vatican on Monday morning for their last discussion before the beginning of the conclave. The most important topic of the 10. General Congregation is likely to be the profile of the future pope. On Tuesday afternoon, the 115 cardinals participating in the papal election enter the Sistine Chapel. Before that, on Tuesday morning, they will move into their rooms in the Vatican guesthouse Santa Marta and celebrate the Mass "Pro eligendo Romano Pontifice" in St. Peter's Basilica. The general congregations had begun last Monday. At last about 150 cardinals took part. Topics included the activities of the Holy See and the relationship between the local churches and the Vatican. Critical questions are also said to have been asked about the "Vatileaks" affair.

The College of Cardinals met in the Vatican for their last debate before the start of the conclave. The most important topic is likely to be the profile of the new pope. Father Bernd Hagenkord of Radio Vatican in the our site-Interview.

Interviewer: Tomorrow the conclave will begin. What does that mean exactly? What is the mood among the cardinals?

Bernd Hagenkord: Tense! Of course, they worked a lot, talked a lot, both in the cardinals' meetings and certainly among themselves. Tomorrow it starts, but that means that today there are two more cardinal assemblies, right now the first one and tonight the second one. There are also a lot of requests to speak, so there is a lot of need to talk, this is also said by the cardinals with whom one speaks, yesterday for example during the press meetings that some cardinals held. So: There is a lot of talk, there is a lot of need and there is very open talk, as one hears.

Interviewer: In the Sistine Chapel, the preparations are already well advanced, even before the date was set. What is the current state of affairs there?? There is still work to be done today?

Hagenkord: The final touches, so to speak, are now being put in place. The cameras will be set up for the entrance tomorrow, the lighting systems, the microphones, etc. still have to be set up today. And then today there will be the swearing in of the 90 or so people who are not cardinals, but who will be there around the conclave – from cooks to security personnel to technicians. The bus driver, for example, who drives the cardinals back and forth, all those will be sworn in – also in the Sistine Chapel, if I am correctly informed, or in the Paolina next door. So the last things will be done today.
Interviewer: You can't expect anything to get through before then via Twitter or Facebook. We long will have to wait? How long do you think it will take until the cardinals can agree on a new pope??

Hagenkord: I have no gut feeling about this at all. And if you ask the cardinals, you get the answer: it can go in all directions, it can be that a majority is quickly found for a candidate, although at the moment it is not at all foreseeable who that could be. There one gets the most different names called and all also rather only so carefully groping to call a name at all once. Some cardinals also say that they expect a long conclave, because there are many possible candidates and since there is no discussion, the formation of opinion will take place purely through the election. So it may well take a few days. I myself, as I said, have no gut feeling at all. I rather expect Thursday, Friday – but please don't nail me down on that.
Interviewer: Which possible favorites are being talked about?

Hagenkord: The Vatican once counted unofficially: There are 47 … So pretty much everyone who is the right age, that is, from early 60s to mid 70s, will be named at some point. It is very, very difficult to say. Personally, I have also become very cautious because the "fashion" then fluctuates very strongly. And the tone-setting Italian newspapers make yes also completely clear politics, which call completely certain names, also with sense and purpose, unfortunately those are then simply repeated in German media. So I have become a bit cautious about naming favorites at all.
Interviewer: How, then, are the talks that are still taking place today likely to be used by the cardinals? Already concrete in terms of finding out who might be suitable?

Hagenkord: Very, very concretely! Although not by name, today's agenda – as confirmed by the Vatican spokesman – is: what must the new pope be able to do? So what does he have to bring to the office, so to speak? What do we need for a kind of pope? That will be addressed today. Also again a few more fundamental things are addressed, the cardinals can of course not 100% adhere to the guidelines, that is quasi a sequence of statements, since one does not react to each other. It is difficult to discuss. But the basic question, what kind of pope do we need today, that's on the agenda and thus the best preparation for the start of the conclave tomorrow.

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