Monday 23 April 2018

Retired pope will take a new title

Workmen erect a media gantry for the pope's final public audience (AP)
Workmen erect a media gantry for the pope's final public audience (AP)

The pope is to be known as "emeritus pope" after he retires and will continue to wear a white cassock, the Vatican has announced.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said that Benedict himself made the decisions. The pope's title and what he would wear has been a major question ever since he stunned the world and announced he would resign.

While he will no longer wear his trademark red shoes, Benedict has taken a liking to a pair of hand-crafted brown loafers made for him by artisans in Leon, Mexico and presented to him during his 2012 visit. He will wear them in retirement.

He will be called "Your Holiness Benedict XVI" and either emeritus pope or emeritus Roman pontiff, the Rev. Lombardi said.

He also elaborated on the College of Cardinals meetings that will take place after the papacy becomes vacant on Thursday - crucial gatherings in which cardinals will discuss the problems facing the church and set a date for the start of the conclave to elect the successor.

The first meeting is not now expected until Monday since the official convocation to cardinals to come to Rome will only go out on Friday - the first day of what is known as the "sede vacante," or the vacancy between papacies.

In all 115 cardinals under the age of 80 are expected in Rome for the conclave to vote on who should become the next pope; two other eligible cardinals have already said they are not coming, one from Britain and another from Indonesia. Cardinals who are 80 and older can join the College meetings but are not part of the conclave and cannot vote.

Benedict has given the cardinals the go-ahead to move up the start date of the conclave - tossing out the traditional 15-day waiting period. But the cardinals will not actually set a date for the conclave until they begin meeting officially on Monday.

The Rev. Lombardi also further described Benedict's final 48 hours as pope: On Tuesdayhe was packing, arranging for documents to be sent to the various archives at the Vatican and separating out the personal papers he will take with him into retirement. On Wednesday he will hold his final public general audience in St. Peter's Square at which 50,000 tickets have already been requested. He will not greet visiting prelates or VIPs as he normally does at the end but will meet some visiting political leaders - from San Marino, Andorra and his native Bavaria - privately afterwards. On Thursday, the pope meets his cardinals in the morning and then flies by helicopter to Castel Gandolfo, the papal residence south of Rome. He will greet parishioners there from the palazzo's loggia - his final public act as pope.

And at 8pm, the exact time at which his retirement becomes official, the Swiss Guards standing outside the doors of the palazzo at Castel Gandolfo will go inside, their service protecting the head of the Catholic Church now finished. Benedict's personal security will then be assured by Vatican police.

Press Association

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