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More details on papal resignation, conclave

February 14, 2013

Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, held a briefing for reporters on February 14, providing more information about plans for the retirement of Pope Benedict and the election of his successor. He revealed:

  • Archbishop Georg Ganswein, who has served for years as the private secretary to Benedict XVI, will continue to live with the Pontiff after his retirement. However the archbishop, who was recently appointed as prefect of the pontifical household, will continue to serve in that role as well. The new Pontiff could, if he wished, select a replacement.
  • The Vatican will continue to provide security for the former Pontiff in his retirement. His household will still be served by members of the Memores Domini lay movement.
  • Pope Benedict did suffer a minor injury to his head during his trip to Mexico last year. (This announcement was a confirmation of rumors that had circulated among Vatican-watchers for some time. It followed the disclosure a day earlier that the Pontiff had surgery to replace the battery in his pacemaker—again a confirmation of rumors.) However the injury was not serious, Father Lombardi said. It did not affect the Pope’s schedule during that foreign trip, and was not a factor in his decision to resign.
  • The world's cardinals will gather in Rome on March 1, the day after the Pope's resignation becomes effective, to begin discussions on the future needs of the Church. All cardinals—including those who are over 80 and ineligible to vote in a papal election—can join in these discussions. Among other things, these early meetings will set a date for the conclave.
  • Barring a death in the College of Cardinals, there will be 117 cardinal-electors eligible to vote in the papal conclave. There are currently 118 cardinal-electors, but one—Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, the retired Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, will celebrate his 80th birthday on February 26, and thus become ineligible to participate in the conclave. Two other cardinals could turn 80 before the conclave begins sometime in mid-March, but the rules of the conclave stipulate that a cardinal becomes ineligible only if he turns 80 before the papacy becomes vacant. Thus Cardinal Walter Kasper, the former president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, who will be 80 on March 5; and Cardinal Severino Poletto, former Archbishop of Turin, whose 80th birthday is on March 18, will be eligible to vote.


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  • Posted by: koinonia - Feb. 14, 2013 7:12 PM ET USA

    Revelations that the Holy Father has a history of strokes, and that he has a pacemaker would suggest that his stamina to serve as pontiff these years is truly remarkable. Very impressive. God bless him is his retirement; he has earned it.