VATICAN CITY -- As possible front-runners emerged ahead of a conclave to elect the next pope, Roman Catholic cardinals Monday wrapped up a week of discussion on issues facing the church, with some pushing unsuccessfully to extend their talks before the start of balloting.
In their last scheduled pre-conclave gathering on Monday morning, 28 cardinals addressed their colleagues, more than in any of the other sessions of the so-called general congregations. Over 150 speeches have been made since the meetings started last Monday.
After numerous cardinals discussed the Vatican's scandal-ridden and much criticized internal workings over the week, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, on Monday addressed attempts to bring transparency to the Vatican bank, which has long been tainted by money-laundering allegations.
By the end of the morning, more cardinals were still waiting to speak, prompting a vote of whether to hold an extra session, which was defeated.
Instead, cardinals took the afternoon off to continue private talks on who should replace Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned on Feb. 28. The 115 cardinal electors have already pushed back their expected move into Vatican accommodations reserved for them during the conclave from Monday night to Tuesday morning.
The cardinals are scheduled to unpack their bags at the Casa Santa Marta complex at 7 a.m. local time Tuesday, then attend a pre-conclave Mass with the public in St. Peter's Basilica before filing into the Sistine Chapel at 4:30 p.m. for the first ballot.