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Cardinals not socializing much, but pose for the occasional photo

VATICAN CITY—The cardinal electors might not be talking publicly, but nobody said they couldn't pose for pictures.

About noon each day outside St. Peter's Basilica, after they finish their morning, pre-conclave meetings, a few crimson-capped princes of the church can be spied striding through St. Peter's Square en route to the Vatican apartments where they live. Thursday, Cardinal Walter Kasper, a German prelate who's president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, stopped and posed for some photos with visitors and tourists.

American cardinals are harder to spot. They're driven from their quarters at the North American College—where American seminary students are headquartered and which is about a 15-minute walk uphill from St. Peter's—to the Vatican meetings. They dine at the college, avoiding Rome's restaurants, where Vatican watchers might see potential conclave alliances in their dining partners.

"They're going out, but they're not doing a lot of socializing," said Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops who's currently working out of the North American College. She noted that Baltimore Cardinal William Keeler took in a concert of Verdi's "Requiem" on Wednesday night.

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(Montemurri reports for the Detroit Free Press.)

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(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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