Cardinals Face a Host of Decisions in Coming Days

Arrangements for Pope's Funeral Among Them

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 3, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Cardinals on Monday will meet to officially decide when and how the body of John Paul II will be brought to St. Peter's Basilica for public viewing.



The cardinals, at their first general congregation after the Holy Father's death, will decide when and how "the body of the deceased Pope shall be brought to the Vatican Basilica in order to be exposed for the homage of the faithful," according to a Vatican document.

Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls already announced that the exposition of the body would take place beginning on Monday afternoon, but the decision will only be official after the cardinals' meeting.

In No. 13 of the apostolic constitution "Universi Dominici Gregis," John Paul II gave the following instructions for one of the first general congregations:

-- "Make all necessary arrangements for the funeral rites of the deceased Pope" and determine "when they are to begin."

-- "See to it that the Commission, made up of the Cardinal Camerlengo and the Cardinals who had formerly held the offices of Secretary of State and President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State, ensures that the rooms of the Domus Sanctae Marthae are made ready for the suitable lodging of the Cardinal electors, that rooms suitable for those persons mentioned in No. 46 of the present Constitution are also made ready, and that all necessary arrangements are made to prepare the Sistine Chapel so that the election process can be carried out in a smooth and orderly manner and with maximum discretion, according to the provisions laid down in this Constitution."

Domus Sanctae Marthae is the hotel-style building in the Vatican that will house participants in the conclave.

-- "Entrust to two ecclesiastics known for their sound doctrine, wisdom and moral authority the task of presenting to the Cardinals two well-prepared meditations on the problems facing the Church at the time and on the need for careful discernment in choosing the new Pope"; and also "fix the day and time when the first of these meditations is to be given."

The first meditation will take place in the time preceding entrance into the conclave. The second will be on the same day of entrance into the conclave, after the cardinal electors have taken an oath in the Sistine Chapel, and immediately before the beginning of the election process.

-- "Approve -- at the proposal of the Administration of the Apostolic See or, within its competence, of the Governorate of Vatican City State -- expenses incurred from the death of the Pope until the election of his successor."

-- "Read any documents left by the deceased Pope in the College of Cardinals."

-- "Arrange for the destruction of the Fisherman's Ring and of the lead seal with which Apostolic Letters are dispatched."

The Fisherman's Ring is used in papal briefs, as well as in other acts as documents and consistorial decisions. At present, apostolic letters or bulls are issued "sub plumbo," making use of the lead seal guarded, together with the Fisherman's Ring, by the first section -- General Affairs of the Secretariat of State.

-- "Set the day and hour of the beginning of the voting process."