VATICAN CITY (CBSNewYork) – The papal succession process will start on Monday. That’s when cardinals will gather in Rome for formal meetings to set a conclave date to elect the next pope.
Senior cardinals are now running things at the Vatican in the absence of a pope. And all the world’s cardinals are either here or on their way to select a new one, CBS 2’s Jay Levin reported late Friday night.
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There are 11 American Cardinals who could decide to vote as a block, CBS 2′s Vinita Nair reported.
“I am a rookie at this,” New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan said. “We have not gotten in discussions that would lead me to believe what anybody’s going to vote, but I wouldnt think so. I am sensing a remarkable liberty, sense of independence.”
Earlier in the day in St. Peter’s Square people lined up to buy new “Sede Vacante” postal stamps, available for the first time and specially designed and good only until a new pope is elected. That process started Friday morning.
Most of the cardinals are already in Rome, having met with Benedict XVI on Thursday. They are already thinking about how to judge potential candidates.
“You might not know them personally. You don’t know what their favorite soft drink is or what their pasta is that they might like more than any other, but you know who they are in terms of psychology, stability, even their spirituality. How healthy he is, whether or not he has a vision that’s truly universal,” Cardinal Francis George said.
Cardinal George told Levine he has four or five names in mind. Cardinal Dolan said he hasn’t narrowed his down that much.
“I would. I admit that. It might be a little longer. Cardinal George knows the cardinals better than I do. So mine would be longer, and that’s part of the discussion, I don’t mind admitting that. While nobody would campaign, while nobody is jockeying, there would be some honest conversations saying ‘what’s your read on this guy?’” Cardinal Dolan said.
As the cardinals were discussing his successor, the former pope, now Pope Emeritus, began the next chapter of life.
“He will spend some time in the Vatican gardens, the Castel Gandolfo gardens, saying the rosary. In the weeks leading up to his departure, the pope played piano every evening after dinner. Last night, obviously, we didn’t hear music as he was watching television, but you can be sure he’ll take the piano up again,” said Father Thomas Rosica, the Vatican press secretary.
On Wednesday, the pope talked about the loss of privacy, with official duties occupying every waking minute. What we were told about his activities Thursday night almost seemed like he was trying to make up for lost time, having dinner, watching television and reading his mail.
When the cardinals meet in the coming weeks, they’re also expected to discuss problems facing the Church.
Tourists and the faithful formed a steady line outside of St. Peter’s Basilica just for the chance to get in. They said they understand the historical significance of this transition.
“They need to be forward looking, to see how people and the world are changing,” Gharun Lacy said.
Benedict chose his former Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, to oversee day-to-day Vatican business until a new Holy Father is chosen. He will get help from three cardinal assistants who are chosen at random and replaced every three days until a new pope is elected.
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