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VATICAN CITY: Catholic cardinals from around the world yesterday put off a decision on when to begin a conclave to elect the next pope, instead debating Vatican finances and a reform of the bureaucracy.
The last of the 115 “cardinal electors” who will take part in the vote, Vietnam’s Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man, arrived in Rome yesterday.
Only cardinals aged under 80 can participate and there have been several late arrivals after Benedict XVI’s sudden decision to step down as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
“There has been no decision on a date for the conclave,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told the Vatican press corps, saying the need to vote on a date “had not matured in the common opinion” of the cardinals.
He also said three top Vatican officials in charge of economic affairs had reported to the cardinals in closed-door talks where all the participants are bound by a strict vow of secrecy.
Lombardi said he could not say whether or not there had been talk about the Vatican bank, which has been investigated in Italy for failing to comply with anti money laundering legislation.
Popular Italian Catholic weekly Famiglia Cristiana, meanwhile said the Church was “losing credibility” over its finances and called for the Vatican bank to be replaced by “ethical banks”.
Cardinals have been holding a series of meetings and prayers known as “general congregations” in the Vatican this week, identifying key problems for the Church that the new pope will have to face after Benedict’s often troubled eight-year reign.