It's been a week since the resignation of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, citing declining health, took effect on Feb. 28. And it seems the cardinal electors now huddled in Vatican could take another week to choose and elect the new 266th pope, dousing earlier expectations of a March 11 start of a papal conclave.
"We are not ready to enter the conclave," Cardinal Francis George of Chicago told the Italian newspaper La Stampa on Friday. "I never felt that we would begin the conclave on March 11th."
The cardinals' apprehension to start the conclave stems from a desire to get enlightened on the varying issues hounding the crisis-stricken secular Roman Catholic religion. On Thursday's pre-conclave talks, which had been going since Monday, the discussions focused on the Holy See's finances, the Vatican bureaucracy and on the Vatican bank.
Suffice to say, all the cardinals want every issue pounding the church brought forward into the open, discussed and considered before they go putting a man who will become most responsible to tackle the issues in the coming years.
The cardinals' decision to push through and take time with the pre-conclave talks "seems very normal and very wise," Rev. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said.
A tight schedule was penned by the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, for the pre-conclave meetings for this week, but this was not followed through. Initially, the pre-conclave talks must have two meetings, one in the morning and another in the afternoon.
But majority of the cardinals asked that meetings be only held in the mornings, to allow them to have time for chats, informal meetings and presumably come up with a list of their own papabiles.
On Thursday, Vietnamese Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man, the last of the 115 cardinal electors, arrived in Rome. His arrival would have signaled the discussions as to when the papal conclave would start, which is widely expected to occur Monday next week.
Many names have now floated as to who can become the 266th pope.
But Vatican analysts strongly believed those being media groomed remain as just "trial balloons."
The curiali and shepherds from outside the Curia will go with someone not yet in the limelight, according to the Catholic News Agency.