VATICAN CITY, MAR 23, 2006 (VIS) - A day of reflection and prayer, called by the Pope prior to tomorrow's consistory, began at 9.30 a.m. today in the Vatican's Synod Hall in the presence of the members of the College of Cardinals.
At the beginning of the meeting Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, thanked Benedict XVI in the name of all those present for having called them to this day of prayer as an encouragement "to joint action more in keeping with the pastoral challenges of the present time".
Today's meeting, he said, "shows the importance Your Holiness attributes to the College of Cardinals. For our part, we undertake to abide by the mission the Church expects from us".
In his brief address, Cardinal Sodano recalled how the cardinals help the Pope "both when gathered collegially, and when acting individually within the Roman Curia". In this context, he stressed the "complementarity" between the two consultative bodies at the disposal of the Roman Pontiff: the Synod, created following Vatican Council II, and the College of Cardinals.
"Your Holiness," he concluded, "will now inform us of the themes upon which you wish to hear our opinion and to take counsel. As dean, it is also my honor to extend to you the devoted greetings of all members of the College of Cardinals who are absent because of urgent appointments or through reasons of health - such as Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, dean emeritus - and who are present in spirit".
During the meeting there will be free discussions and exchanges of opinion among the participants, in a manner similar to the congregations of cardinals prior to last year's conclave, which were presided over by the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in his capacity as dean of the College of Cardinals.
The day of reflection and prayer, which will continue this afternoon from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., is being held before tomorrow's Ordinary Public Consistory during which the Holy Father will create 15 new cardinals.
Looking at the live feed of St. Peter's Square, the sections of chairs are all set out and ready to go for tomorrow. It's overcast and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. For tomorrow and then Saturday, there are chances of rain, tomorrow in the afternoon and on Saturday in the morning. The highs on both days will be in the low sixties.
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