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A new title for Benedict XVI, and other details

February 26, 2013

When his resignation takes effect, Pope Benedict XVI will be known as “Pope emeritus,” the Vatican has announced.

At a February 26 briefing, the director of the Vatican press office, Father Federico Lombardi, gave reporters some details about plans for the Pope’s resignation and the meetings of cardinals during the sede vacante period.

  • Benedict XVI will continue to wear a white cassock, but without short cape, the mozzetta, covering his shoulders. He will still be addressed as “Your Holiness.”
  • A contingent of the Swiss Guard will accompany the Pope on his flight to Castel Gandolfo when he leaves the Vatican on February 28. However at 8 pm on Thursday evening, when his resignation formally takes effect, the Swiss Guard will be withdrawn, since their duty is the personal protection of the Pope. Security for the Pope emeritus at Castel Gandolfo will be provided by Vatican police.
  • The Fisherman’s Ring worn by Pope Benedict and his official seal will both be destroyed.

As previously announced, Pope Benedict will meet on Thursday morning with the cardinals who are present in Rome. He will then take a helicopter flight from the Vatican to Castel Gandolfo, where he will be greeted by Church leaders and civic officials. He will appear at the balcony of the apostolic palace to greet the faithful there, in what will probably be the last public act of his pontificate.

Father Lombardi announced that 50,000 tickets have already been distributed for the Pope’s final weekly audience on Wednesday, February 27. A much larger crowd is expected. The audience is expected to take its usual form, except that at its conclusion the Pope will tour St. Peter’s Square in the popemobile to make his farewell to the crowd.

On March 1, the 1st day of the sede vacante period, the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, will formally summon all the cardinals to Rome. (Most of the cardinal-electors will be in the city already, having arrived to meet with Pope Benedict before his departure.) Father Lombardi said that it was likely the cardinals would begin meeting in congregations, to attend to the business of the Church and to make plans for the conclave, at the beginning of the next week.

The date for the conclave will be set at one of the early congregations. During the conclave the cardinals will be housed at the Casa Santa Marta on the Vatican grounds, where their rooms will be assigned by a lottery. However the cardinals will not take up residence there until the eve of the conclave.


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  • Posted by: Marty01 - Feb. 26, 2013 2:05 PM ET USA

    tickets to the weekly audience are free right?