A round up of some of today's stories surrounding the conclave and other related issues.
* Summary of today’s press briefing at the Vatican on the first day of the general congregation. The meeting took places in a "warm, serene atmosphere of great spiritual communion," said Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi. Vatican statement on today’s general congregation.
* Cardinal Julian Herranz, one of the three cardinals who led the commission of inquiry into Vatileaks, recently made some important points in an under-reported interview to a Spanish newspaper on the whole affair.
Notably he dismisses the sensationalism of media reports, saying speculation over the contents of the commission dossier on the investigation is “enormously inflated” and a bubble which “will soon burst.” “I have been working for more than half a century in the Vatican, and I can say that I admire many of my colleagues, for their capacity for devotion and sacrifice," Cardinal Herranz says. "There will be black sheep, as in all families, that fact I would not argue with, but we speak of the least corrupt and most transparent government, there is, more than any international organization and any secular government.”
* Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, one of the leading candidates going into the conclave, has suggested that other candidates for pope might do a better job.
"I have to be ready even if I think that probably others could do it better," Ouellet, 68, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp in an interview published late on Sunday. "I can't not think about the possibility. Reasonably, when I go into the conclave of cardinals, I have to say to myself, 'What if, what if...' It makes me reflect, it makes me pray, it makes me somewhat afraid. I am very conscious of the weight of the task," he said.
* Prayer and the spiritual support of the Universal Church are equally important to the cardinals' own discussions when discerning a candidate, according to Cardinal Thomas Christopher Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, Canada. He also said seeing the conclave as a “political paradigm” is “all understandable, but it "misses the point. (The faithful can "adopt a cardinal" to pray for over the papal election period. Enter your name and email, pray to the Holy Spirit and the website will randomly choose a cardinal for you to pray for. The initiative came from Youth2000, a worldwide movement of young Catholics whose aim is to help fulfil Benedict XVI's goals for the New Evangelization.)
* Il Mattino claims Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana is in “pole position” among the “African lobby” hoping for a pope from that continent (print edition only).
* Cardinal Francis George of Chicago told reporters today “there was no talk about when the conclave will begin” during today’s meeting, but he added: “We would like to be done by Holy Week [March 24] so we can have a pope and get back to our dioceses.”
* Cardinal Timothy Dolan sat down for coffee with Corriere della Sera, and underlined the importance of the days leading up to the Conclave: “I want to talk with my confreres, I want to meet all of them, I want to understand better, many of them I only know through their books,“ he said, adding: “After this work is done, after the important work of this week, we’ll have it [the election] soon.”
When the correspondent said the work he is doing now is nothing compared to that which awaits him (i.e. as Pope), he replied: “Certainly that’s true, great work awaits me, but in New York.”