.- At a press briefing to preview the Pope’s final events, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said now is a time to grow spiritually and not fabricate stories on possible Vatican division.
“We’re in a deep spiritual time and we should be preparing ourselves for the ‘sede vacante’ and the new Pope,” said Fr. Lombardi, the Holy See press office director.
“Now is a time for seeking the spiritual well-being of everyone within the Church. And I personally invite you to prepare yourself spiritually for this,” he said at a Feb. 21 press briefing.
He told journalists “it is natural that there are comments these days that tend to incite talk about conflict and organized groups within the Church.”
“It was foreseeable that this would happen in a situation like this, but it is not what the Holy Father and the Church invite us to do,” said Fr. Lombardi.
After offering these thoughts, he made two corrections to a story that ran in an Italian newspaper today.
Fr. Lombardi also detailed the Pope’s events over the last seven days of his pontificate.
The Holy Father is currently attending the annual Lenten spiritual exercises, which will end on Feb. 23 at 9:00 a.m. He will deliver a short speech of thanks to Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi for preaching the meditations and a greeting to the Curia members that participated in the week long retreat.
Pope Benedict will then meet privately with Italy’s president, Giorgio Napolitano, and his delegation at 11:30 a.m.
Sunday, the 24th of February, will be the last Angelus gathering presided over by Benedict XVI.
The final public event for Pope Benedict will be his Feb. 27 general audience, during which he will travel around St. Peter’s Square in the popemobile to greet the public.
“It’s an audience that we will live with great emotions, but the structure will not change,” Fr. Lombardi commented.
The Pope will then meet with all the cardinals who are in Rome on Feb. 28, including those who will have travelled from abroad.
Each cardinal will have a chance to greet him personally in the Clementine Hall during the 11:00 a.m. meeting.
Pope Benedict XVI will meet with the Vatican’s Secretary of State at 5:00 p.m. and will travel by helicopter to Castel Gandolfo, where he will greet locals at the square and be received by the town’s mayor and the parish priest.
The Vatican’s television channel, CTV, will begin live broadcast a few minutes prior to his departure from the Vatican.
On the possibility of changing the conclave to an earlier date, Fr. Lombardi noted “there is no possibility of giving a date before the decision is made by the congregation of the cardinals during the sede vacante.”