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Pope Benedict’s resignation is official

CWN - February 28, 2013

The pontificate of Benedict XVI has come to an end.

At 8 pm Rome time, the Pope’s resignation officially took effect and the Holy See became vacant.

The Pope left Rome at 5 pm, having taking his final leave of Vatican officials. As his helicopter lifted off, all the bells of the Vatican sounded. Bells pealed once again when he arrived at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, where he was greeted by Church leaders and civic officials.

Appearing at the balcony of the apostolic palace soon after his arrival, the Pope thanked the faithful for their expressions of support. “I am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on earth,” he said. But he promised that continue to serve the Church “with my heart, with my love, with my prayers, with my reflection, and with all my inner strength.”

At exactly 8 pm, the doors of the apostolic palace were closed, and the Swiss Guard detail left their post, since the Swiss Guard are responsible only for the personal safety of the reigning Pontiff. (The Vatican gendarmerie will continue to provide security for the former Pope.)

The papal apartments at the Vatican have been sealed off, and the Fisherman’s Ring worn by Benedict XVI has been destroyed. The sede vacante period has begun for the Catholic Church.

All the top officials of the Roman Curia will now submit their resignations, since they serve at the pleasure of the Pontiff. The new Pope will have the authority to renew their appointments, at his discretion. Until the new Pontiff is elected, the Roman Curia will make no policy decisions, and the day-to-day administration of the Church will be handled collectively by the College of Cardinals.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals, has the formal duty of summoning all cardinals to Rome—although in fact most cardinals have already arrived—and scheduling the first of a series of “congregations” at which the cardinals will decide, among other things, when the conclave will meet to elect the next Pope.

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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Saint Jimbob of the Apokalypse - Feb. 28, 2013 8:19 PM ET USA

    I guess we're all Sedevacantists now, eh? ;-)

  • Posted by: jeremiahjj - Feb. 28, 2013 5:25 PM ET USA

    From what I read in "Inside the Vatican," it might be a good idea if the new pope appoints a new Secretary of State. The one serving Benedict XVI seems to have gone a few steps beyond being a loyal gatekeeper, choosing instead to decide which of the Holy Father's messages and directives he wanted to pass along.

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