Last stragglers arrive at Vatican, U.S. cardinals keep quiet

March 7, 2013 2:57:24 PM PST
Still no start date on the conclave for picking a new pope, but the last cardinals are expected to arrive at the Vatican.

The college of cardinals has been waiting on two -- a cardinal from Poland and another from Vietnam. They are expected Thursday- and have to be present for a conclave date to be set, at which point they will begin the selection process for a new pope. Benedict XVI stepped down last month, becoming the first pope in 600 years to resign.

As the college awaits its stragglers, the American cardinals, including Chicago's Francis Cardinal George, remain mum with the press. The change in policy came after the College of Cardinals decided no more interviews should be granted.

The directive seems to be in response to leaks from the cardinals' meetings being published in Italian newspapers. But there's no question that the openness of the American cardinals -with their daily press briefings and frequent interviews - were irritating cardinals from other countries who weren't talking at all. Also, the Vatican itself, prefers to be the sole source of information.

On Wednesday evening, the cardinals gathered for a prayer service inside St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. Nearby, the Sistine Chapel is being modified for the conclave, where flooring and desks are installed, along with the stoves or ovens where the papal ballots are burned following each vote.