Benedict listened attentively, and at the end of the day offered a brief summary of the discussion. The pope is known for his capacity to absorb information and synthesize it rapidly, and sources told NCR he was in good form Thursday.
"It was a tour de force," one cardinal said. "He never relied on translation, so he had been listening all day in five languages, and then offered a brilliant précis of all the important points."
Sources told NCR that on the subject of Islam, several cardinals touched on the need for greater emphasis on reciprocity — the idea that if Muslim immigrants to the West claim the benefit of religious freedom, the same should be true for Christian minorities in majority Islamic states.
"I think most of us felt that Islam represents a challenge to the church, and we need to reflect on how to respond," one cardinal told NCR.
In that regard, sources told NCR that the emerging line of Benedict XVI’s papacy on Islam, featuring more explicit challenges to Islamic leaders on terrorism and religious freedom, enjoys strong support in the College of Cardinals.
With regard to the Lefebvrite movement, sources said that a variety of opinions were expressed. Some cardinals were in favor of rapid movement towards reconciliation, including wider use of the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass, while others were concerned with the terms upon which reconciliation might occur. These cardinals stressed the importance that traditionalists accept the teaching of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).
"There wasn’t any strong consensus," one cardinal said. "We’ll continue to study and review the situation, but I’m quite sure the pope is not going to issue a decree tomorrow."
The column also notes, at the end, that in June Allen will be relocating to New York – he will return to Rome regularly, but his base of operations will be in the U.S.