The college of cardinals will get off to a late start Monday when they assemble for the first time to prepare for the next conclave, Chicago's Cardinal Francis George told reporters today.
George had expected the meetings to begin the day after Pope Benedict XVI officially resigned. But the memo summoning the College of Cardinals arrived from the Dean of the College by fax only this morning.
The summons includes two formal assemblies called general congregations on Monday -- a break from the norm of formal meetings in the morning and smaller more informal gatherings in the afternoon.
The summons did not set a date for the conclave.
Only the cardinals can do that after they've had a chance to meet and determine whether they're ready, George said.
"You have to get into that discussion and have a sense of security at a certain point that says we're ready," he said. "You begin rather tentatively and then you start to fill things in both about the mission and about people."
Recalling the last conclave in 2005 that elected Pope Benedict XVI, "I remember thinking to myself 'I'm ready to go into conclave now,'" George said.
George emphasized the importance of hearing input from retired cardinals who turned 80 before Thursday. They can participate in the general congregations but are not allowed to vote in the conclave.
"They want to have time to tell us what they think," said George, who said he heard and took seriously the pleas of the retired cardinal of Barcelona Thursday. "There's a lot of wisdom there and this is the only occasion they have to influence the voting. You've got to respect their situation and give them time to talk."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun