With Benedict XVI having entered into his life of prayer and meditation as “Roman pontiff emeritus”, the Holy See moved into conclave mode yesterday when the dean of the college of cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, summoned the cardinals to Rome.
The cardinals will meet in the Vatican’s Synod Hall at 9.30am on Monday for the first of their “general congregations”. These meetings represent a “state of the union” moment for the Catholic Church at which the cardinals will establish the date of the conclave to elect a successor to Benedict and also discuss issues and challenges faced by the church.
At a briefing yesterday, however, Holy See spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi warned against expecting any immediate announcement of the date, saying the decision will almost certainly come later in the week.
If the cardinals opt to anticipate the conclave, the most likely starting dates are March 10th or 11th.