Journalists at today's Vatican briefing
It looks like next Monday is going to mark a showdown on the transparency issue in the run-up to the conclave.
That's the day cardinals begin their twice-daily "general congregations," meetings that will provide a forum for discussion of church priorities and offer cardinals a chance to size up potential papal candidates.
It's also the day of the first scheduled briefing on the general congregations, for the hundreds of reporters who are in Rome for the papal transition. The type of information provided to journalists on Monday will probably set the tone for coming days.
Sources today said Vatican communications officials expect to furnish at least generic summaries of the main themes covered in the cardinals' conversations -- but without naming names. In other words, we may be told, for example, that the subject of the church's relations with Islam drew some strong proposals, but we won't be told who made them.
Likewise, the cardinals are expected to be told by the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, to be very careful in talking with reporters and others about the content of their meetings, and to avoid identifying individual speakers. This would, of course, make it more difficult to identify protagonists (and potential candidates).
If history is any guide, U.S. cardinals will probably follow the rules to the letter, while others -- particularly Italians -- may take a more flexible approach.