Cardinals enjoy 'constructive climate', 'fellowship' in Rome
Top clergymen getting to know each other before papal election04 March, 20:47
Cardinals began discussions in an atmosphere "of serenity, it was very constructive", said Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi.
About 115 cardinals are expected to take part in the balloting when the conclave formally begins, likely next week.
Even more are taking part in the pre-conclave congretations, as only cardinals under 80 years of age are eligible to vote.
But at least two eligible cardinals have given notice they will not attend - one for reasons of ill health, and the other, British Cardinal Keith O'Brien, because he is being investigated for allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct with priests.
Cardinals began arriving for Monday morning's meetings at about 9:30 a.m. - some on foot, others in small groups.
"We are experiencing fellowship," explained French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin as he left the day's sessions that included prayers and discussions about the future of the Church.
Discretion and an ability to keep the discussions inside conclave a secret will be an important part of the voting cardinals' responsibilities.
But among the work, there was still time for a coffee break for the cardinals, who also enjoyed the warm spring-like air of Rome.