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As conclave draws near, American cardinals grow silent

Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 10:35 a.m. CDT

(MCT) VATICAN CITY — A day after Chicago's Cardinal Francis George extolled the virtues of communication, the American cardinals have decided to go silent.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops canceled a news conference today that was supposed to feature George and retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington D.C.

George's spokeswoman said the cardinal also would no longer grant interviews.

"We are not dealing with a congress or a synod during which you would try to get as much information as possible about what's taking place," said the Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman at a news conference on Wednesday.

"We are dealing with a journey, and part of that journey is the pre-meeting, pre-conclave meetings taking place right now and in the conclave itself," Rosica said. "There's a certain respect that grows among the participants of the conclave as they deeper in conversations."

Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the bishops conference, said there were concerns expressed in the General Congregation about leaks of confidential proceedings to Italian newspapers.

George had made a point of being available to the media daily. On Monday, he appeared with Cardinal Donald Weurl of the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. to field questions about the first day of pre-conclave meetings. On Tuesday, he said communication has become a bigger priority among cardinals than it was eight years ago.

"It's really clear that the pope has to be a great communicator," he said. "That's really come out in conversations."


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