Decisions by the Cardinals

Decisions by the Cardinals

The General Congregation of Cardinals met yesterday and today to make some important decisions. As I said in my article, the general congregation is a meeting of all the cardinals present in Rome to make important decisions regarding the governance of the Church during the interregnum.

The most important of these past two sessions was setting the date for the beginning of the conclave as April 18.

Yesterday, 88 of the 91 cardinals in Rome met in the congregation. One of the topics discussed was the name of the one cardinal in pectore. Briefly, when the Pope names cardinals, he can keep some names in pectore, (literally, “in the breast”), or secret. No one knows the name of the cardinal, except the Pope and sometimes not even the new cardinal himself. Why would he do that? In some cases to prevent persecution as often happened during the rule of the Communists in Europe. Now if the Pope dies without naming him, then the honorary title lapses. But there is the possibility that the Pope could name him in his will, in which case the honor would be made public and the cardinal invited to participate in the conclave, if he’s under the age of 80. Since the congregation of cardinals read the Pope’s will today, we found out that the Holy Father did not put it in his will.

We’ve also found out that there will be one fewer cardinal-elector than previously thought. Cardinal Jaime Sin, former archbishop of Manila, is too sick to travel to Rome, even though he’s only 76.

Yesterday, we were told by the Vatican that the Pope asked to be buried in the earth and that he will be buried in the spot where Pope Blessed John XXIII had been buried. (Because John XXIII was discovered recently to be incorrupt, his body has been moved into the main part of the basilica.) They also told us that the Pope’s body was not embalmed, which I think is a sign that they’re hoping that someday John Paul’s body will also be found to be incorrupt.

As of today, there were 116 cardinals at the meeting of the General Congregation, out of 122 present in Rome. They made some decisions regarding the funeral and the novendiali, the nine official days of mourning. They also rejected a proposal to bring the Holy Father’s body to St. John Lateran, which is actually his official church as Bishop of Rome. They didn’t that it was technically possible.

The Vatican said this morning that over 1 million have seen the body of the Pope lying in state in one just one day and that up to 5 million people will be present as mourners for the funeral. The wait in line is up to 12 hours long!

  • I heard from -I forget where- that Poland has requested that if they can’t have the Pope’s body, they wanted to have his heart in Poland.  I love the idea, but wondered if you’d heard anything about this.

  • I heard it on the news too, but have no confirmation of it. I doubt the cardinals would do it unless the Holy Father left specific instructions for it in his will. We’ll know tomorrow.

  • So this “secret” cardinal that’s been speculated about in the press is no longer a cardinal?  Am I understanding this right?

  • I thought that nowadays the Church is against the practive of carving up bodies so that various parts could rest in various churches.

  • They pretty much are, Melanie, but I think that in this case they might possibly perhaps maybe make an exception. I would agree with Dom, if the Holy Father said okay, it’s possible, otherwise, no.

  • That’s not exactly true. The cardinals will be housed in the Domus Marthae dormitory when they’re not in the Sistine chapel in deliberations and will be shuttled back and forth.

    What the media was told was that they are to treat the entirety of Vatican City as the conclave and are thus not to approach any of the cardinals at any time.

  • I did read in one of the Italian newspapers (<I?La Repubblica</i> or Il Messaggero – canFsearch%3Ffor%3Dchemexper%26SearchCCD%3Dsearch%26search%3D50-00-0″>

    And finally, here’s one I found for formalin undertaker’s cream:

  • I know formalin is a preservative. I wasn’t suggesting that it was a simpple skin cream that a living person. But it’s not injected into the veins. It is applied topically and I think that would make a big difference: If you apply it to a body topically it’s not going to make a body appear incorrupt 40 years later.

  • I was referring to the skin cream used on John XXIII, not anything done to John Paul II. That’s what this is all about, whether John XXIII was incorrupt.

    Look, the Vatican has declared him incorrupt. That’s good enough for me. The conspiracy theories of Rad Trads who don’t like John XXIII because he declared Vatican II don’t interest me.

  • From CNN:
    “John XXIII’s body, however, was in such good condition when it was exhumed nearly 40 years after his death that some spoke of divine intervention – a notion quickly dismissed by the Vatican. “

    From Zenit, March 27, 2001:
    The discovery does not imply a miracle. Vincenzo Pascali, professor of legal medicine at the Catholic University of Rome, explained that the process of injecting formaldehyde, to which John XXIII’s body was subjected, made it possible for the tissues not to deteriorate. Pascali also noted that the body was protected by three boxes, which impeded the entry of oxygen.

    Pope John 23 was embalmed by an alternate method that involved injecting a specially formulated formalin solution, a powerful preservative, into his body.  (reportedly, 10 liters total)  There was a wax mask over his face when he was seen by the public, remarked upon by his embalmer in 2001.  The man who did this preservation technique was named Professor Gennaro Goglia.  He was called in from the university because it was desired to give Pope John 23 a better embalming job than Pius XII had.  (If you remember Pius XII’s nose fell off and he turned colors, grossing out the Swiss guard, who had to take 15 minutes shifts after one passed out.)

    For some of the words of Professor Goglia on this topic, see this CNN article:

    Note the end of the article which is very clear about the preservation techniques undertaken to FURTHER “mummify”  PJ23 after he was exhumed.  NO wonder it didn’t worry them to sit him out in the sun in a glass box!

    See also:;.intl=us

  • Remarking on the “incorrupt body” of Pope John XXIII is misleading to the extreme. 

    1) PJ23 was chemically preserved and maintained in that state by technicians.  It can be done, Domenico.  Chemically preserved does not equal “incorrupt” as Catholics think of “incorrupt.”

    2) It is known that most Catholics associate incorruption with holiness.  BUT even though sometimes saints have been incorrupt, incorruption is NOT evidence of holiness.  So-called “incorruption” can be brought about by a number of methods—chemical, physical and otherwise.
    You know, or you should know, that the proof of holiness is virtue, not phenomena.

    There’s some funny game-playing going on here in all this hide-the-embalmer talk.  It’s ridiculous, in my view.  Who do they expect to fool?  Certainly not God.