Conclave date still undecided
Last of 115 voting cardinals arrived Thursday evening07 March, 20:42
Earlier in the day, Lombardi said to journalists that it did not seem probable that a decision was coming Thursday.
"It would be more no than yes for me but, as you know, it doesn't depend on me".
However, the last of the 115 cardinals who will participate in the conclave, Vietnamese Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man, arrived in Rome on Thursday, meaning that a date can now be set for the election of the next pope.
Meanwhile, an anonymous report of a group of over 20 moles planning to leak more information from inside the Vatican was circulating in Italian media on Thursday. "There are many, more than 20 people, all tied to the Holy See. We're made up of men and women, laypeople and prelates," an anonymous, self-proclaimed former mole said, according to an interview in Italian daily La Repubblica. Anonymous and unsourced reports from alleged insiders at the Vatican have been surfacing in Italian media in the weeks following the announcement of Benedict XVI's resignation on February 11. As the name conclave suggests, secrecy is a paramount consideration throughout the process and the last two popes came up with several new rules to preserve it.
Security specialists will check the Sistine Chapel, where voting will take place, for bugs.
The cardinals are not to communicate with anyone outside.
Nor are they allowed access to phones, both mobile and landlines, newspapers, radio or TV.
Many outlets have speculated that one motive for Benedict's abdication was the so-called Vatileaks case last year, when the pope's butler was arrested and eventually pardoned for leaking secret Church documents to the Italian press. "The butler isn't the only mole," the anonymous source said in the interview. "If we leaked documents from the pope's apartment, it was to create more transparency in the Church.
Now, after Benedict XVI's resignation from the papacy, and on the verge of the conclave, the Vatileaks case will continue to take the spotlight. And for us, the moment has returned for us to talk," Multinational pilgrims visiting what the Christian Gospels say was the home of Saint Peter, history's first pope, at the Capernaum archeological site on the northern shore of Lake Tiberias, have a range of opinions about what the next pontiff should focus on.
Lake Tiberias, otherwise known as the Sea of Galilee, is where Jesus allegedly recruited several of his apostles, and where he performed his walking on the water miracle.
"It's time we had an African pope. Someone who can speak to the black continent and understand its massive problems", commented a married South African couple. While they did not name their preferred candidate, they called on the next pontiff to allow priests to marry "so they can have someone to support them: a woman at their side, who can sustain them in their ministry".
An Orthodox French-speaking Romanian said he is in favor of a European pope, but went on to add that "any one of them is fine with me, as long as he can face up to the problems and protect the Christian faith. The church must answer to a lot of questions: it's a tough job". A New York couple said they wanted an American pope who "would focus on North and South America". They did not hesitate to name New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who is president of the US Episcopal conference, as their favorite candidate. "I would like him to be Italian, or at least European", said one Italian pilgrim. "Also, the new pope must push the church to focus on souls more than politics. Less structure, and more presence on the ground, here with the people". She was diplomatic on Benedict's resignation: "A pope is not supposed to quit, but with all the difficulties ahead and at his age, he did the right thing".
Father Francisco from southern Spain approved of Ratzinger's decision: "I saw humility and humanity in him. The next pope should focus on the authenticity of the church, the humanity of Christ and the salvation of all men".
"The Holy Spirit will choose the new pope", commented Sister Maria Colomba, an Iraqi from Mosul.