Vatican City: Zenit News Agency
In a communique released this afternoon by the Holy See Press Office it was announced that the eighth General Congregation of the College of Cardinals has decided to begin the conclave on Tuesday, March 12. A Mass will be celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica in the morning. In the afternoon the cardinals will enter into the conclave.
Yesterday the sixth General Congregation was attended by 151 cardinals.
This morning at the seventh General Congregation, the first order of business was to recognize the reasons of absence of two cardinal electors. Absent were Cardinal Julius Rivadi Darmaatmadja S.J.: archbishop emeritus of Jakarta, Indonesia. The reason given was health reasons. Also absent was Cardinal Keith O"Brien ex-archbishop of Edinburgh, Scotland, absent for personal reasons. The College of Cardinals voted to accept the absences for reasons presented.
Among the issues being discussed by the cardinals are inter-religious dialogue, contemporary culture, bioethics, justice in the world, the positive message of love and mercy, and congeniality.
Father Lombardi concluded by stating the cardinals rooms will be assigned by lot drawn during the Congregation. No cardinal chooses who will be his neighbor nor which room they would prefer.
During the conclave a pope will be elected to succeed Pope Benedict XVI whose resignation was official on Feb. 28.