Vatican City, 4 March 2013 (VIS) – Early this afternoon Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office, informed reporters on the proceedings of the first of the General Congregations of the College of Cardinals. The cardinals' meeting took place this morning at 9:30am in the Synod Hall, which is located above the Paul VI Audience Hall in the Vatican building created by the Italian architect Pier Luigi Nervi.
The Congregation was headed by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College, accompanied by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., camerlengo of the Apostolic Camera, and Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary of the Congregation for Bishops. The members of the College took their places following the hierarchical order of precedence: first those belonging to the order of Cardinal-bishops, then the Cardinal-priests, and finally the Cardinal-deacons. Each cardinal has an assigned seat to facilitate the process of voting.
After the opening prayer, “Veni Sancte Spiritus”, followed by the “Adsumus” prayer, Cardinal Sodano greeted those present in Italian, informing them of the procedures related to the Sede Vacante and how the Congregations, regulated by the Apostolic Constitution “Universi Dominici Gregis”, will operate. Following that, technical guidance on the use of microphones and the voting apparatuses was given. The proceedings are being simultaneously translated in five languages: Italian, French, German, Spanish, and English.
There were 142 of the total 207 cardinals present this morning; 103 of those present were Cardinal electors. Expected to arrive this afternoon and tomorrow, therefore, are 63 others including the remaining 12 Cardinal electors. This number—115 Cardinal electors—takes into account the two cardinals who have already indicated that they will not be attending: the archbishop emeritus of Jakarta, Indonesia and the archbishop emeritus of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Scotland.
The gathered cardinals swore to keep secret the deliberations for the election of the future Pope, after which the Cardinal dean, Angleo Sodano, read the oath in Latin, everyone present reciting along with him. After that, each cardinal, according to their order of precedence came forward and took the oath before a Crucifix and with their hand on the Gospels. This process occupied a good portion of the meeting's time.
Three assistants to the camerlengo were also drawn by lot from the Cardinal electors of each of the orders. As established in No. 7 of “Universi Dominici Gregis”, these three will assist the Cardinal camerlengo for the first three days of the Congregations. Chosen were Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re from the order of bishops, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe from the order of priests, and Cardinal Franc Rode from the order of deacons. After being chosen these three also took their places next to the Camerlengo at the head table.
According to tradition, it is expected that the preacher of the Pontifical Household, Fr. Raniero Catalamessa, O.F.M. Cap, will give the first meditation to the College of Cardinals early this afternoon.
“During the course of the meeting,” Fr. Lombardi added, “Dean Sodano proposed to the cardinals that, if they sent a message to the Pope emeritus, he would give a written response for one of the following meetings.” The Holy See Press Office Director also commented that the atmosphere was very friendly and that the cardinals took a 45-minute break for coffee and to exchange thoughts.
From 11:45am until 12:30pm, 13 cardinals took the floor to address issues mainly related to the process of the proceedings and the questions to be faced, also bearing in mind the results of the latest Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization.
“You could define this initial encounter,” Fr. Lombardi concluded, “as serene, constructive, and positive.”
SEDE VACANTE: CARDINAL CAMERLENGO AND APOSTOLIC CAMERA
Vatican City, 4 March 2013 (VIS) – A student of the history of the Roman Curia, in particular the office called the Apostolic Camera, will find that, as early as the 11th century, the term "camera thesauraria" (treasure chamber) appeared, describing an office set up to administer the finances of the Roman Curia and the temporal goods of the Holy See. Today it performs the latter task only in the period of "sede vacante" or vacant see.
In the 12th century, the head of that office was known as the "camerarius," or camerlengo (chamberlain) - a title which carries over to today. That same century saw the former offices of viceroy, treasurer and wardrobe guardian incorporated into this single department. In the 13th and 14th centuries it acquired judicial functions in fiscal matters as well as certain penal and civil cases.
The camerlengo of Holy Roman Church (to be distinguished from the camerlengo of the College of Cardinals) was often a cardinal, but this became mandatory only in the 15th century. Then – as now – he was assisted by a vice-camerlengo, a general auditor and chamber clerks, called Cleric Prelates. Today there is also a notary.
In the early centuries the camerlengo, individual clerks, and chamber auditor had acquired specific competencies and presided over special tribunals, though the "camera plena" or full chamber functioned as a collegial court. Throughout the 19th century the Camera was above all a tribunal for the pontifical state. With his Apostolic Constitution "Sapienti Consilio" of 29 June 1908, Pope St. Pius X confirmed the Apostolic Camera in its functions of temporal power which it had exercised in the past.
Paul VI's Apostolic Constitution "Regimini Ecclesiae Universae" of 15 August 1967 preserved the Apostolic Camera, presided over by the Camerlengo of Holy Roman Church or, if he is impeded, by the vice-camerlengo. It thus maintains the function of caring for and administering the temporal goods and rights of the Holy See during the period of Sede Vacante, that is, between the end of the reign of one Pope and the election of his successor.
A reconfirmation of these special duties was given in John Paul II's Apostolic Constitution "Pastor Bonus" of 28 June 1988.
As confirmed by Pope John Paul II in the Apostolic Constitution "Universi Dominici Gregis" of February 1996, the camerlengo of Holy Roman Church and the penitentiary major are the only two heads of curial offices whose functions do not cease during the Sede Vacante. In fact, those of the camerlengo actually increase during this period.
The current camerlengo of Holy Roman Church is Cardinal Tarcisio Pietro Evasio Bertone, S.D.B. The cardinal was born on 2 December 1934 in Romano Canavese, Piedmont, Italy and was ordained in 1960. He holds a doctorate in canon law and was the rector of the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome in 1989. He received episcopal ordination as archbishop of Vercelli, Italy in 1991. In 1995 Blessed John Paul II appointed him secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, whose prefect at the time was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. In 2002 he was named metropolitan archbishop of Genoa, Italy and on 21 October 2003 he was created a cardinal. On 22 June 2006, Benedict XVI appointed him as secretary of State and on 4 April 2007, as camerlengo.
On 1 March 2013, the complete Apostolic Camera met for the beginning of the period of the Sede Vacante resulting from His Holiness Benedict XVI's renunciation of the Petrine ministry in effect from 8:00pm the previous day, 28 February. The Apostolic Camera currently consists of: Camerlengo Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B.; Vice-camerlengo Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata; Auditor General Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca; and the College of Clerics: Msgr. Assunto Scotti; Msgr. Paolo Luca Braida; Msgr. Philip James Whitmore; Msgr. Winfried Konig; Msgr. Osvaldo Neves de Almeida; Msgr. Krzysztof Jozef Nykiel; Msgr. Lucio Bonora, and; Msgr. Antonio Lazzaro.