Mum’s the word: Cardinals let on little to journalists after Benedict XVI’s last General Audience

Vatican Insider

There were about seventy cardinals present at St. Peter’s for this morning’s General Audience. Mahony, Pell, Wuerl and Marx were all there but did not issue many comments to the press

Vatican Insider staff

Cardinal Roger Mahony seems seraphic despite the accusations against him for covering up sexual crimes in the Church. He was one of the first to appear in the crowd that was pouring out of St. Peter’s Square after Benedict XVI’s last General Audience today. Journalists recognised him, went after him and tried asking him some questions. “God bless you!” the cardinal responded, smiling, and then slipped away.

Seventy out of the 208 cardinals were present in St. Peter’s Square this morning. There were lots of Curia members and some papabili present, but also a number of important absences. The papacy becomes vacant at 8 pm on 28 February and many of the 115 cardinal electors have still not arrived in Rome. Nearer the time of the Conclave, cardinals will stay inside the Vatican, in the Domus Sanctæ Marthæ. Before then, they will be staying in various parts of Rome.

Imposing Australian archbishop, George Pell, gives a few half answers to journalists. Will it be a long Conclave? “Who knows, I doubt it, but I don’t know.” Will it begin before 15 March? “Maybe a bit before, maybe.” There are “obviously” no splits in College of Cardinals. Will the next Pope be Italian? “The best cardinal will be the next Pope!” Will it be you? “No! It is possible an Italian may be chosen…”

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