Today’s press conference focused on Pope Benedict’s schedule for the rest of the month, and some of the same questions i addressed earlier today.
The conference can be viewed on Vatican Radio. Official summary here in English.
An unofficial translation via live tweeting is provided by Father Roderick Vonhogen:
Below is a summary of my live tweets at @fatherroderick during the press conference by Fr. Lombardi at the Vatican earlier today.
The Pope’s Last Work Week
Right now, the Pope is working on the things he has to do in the next weeks, like his general audience tomorrow. Until Feb 28, the Pope continues all his work.
Ash Wednesday celebration will be at Saint Peter’s Basilica instead of on the Aventine. The reason for this is because of the large crowd expected to show up.
The last general audience of Pope Benedict XVI will be at February 27 on Saint Peter’s Square because of the large crowd expected to show up. There will probably not be a specific ‘event’ to say goodbye to pope Benedict XVI, he will use the planned events instead.
The pontificate of the Pope ends Feb 28 at 8 pm, because that is normally the hour on which the Pope concludes his working days.
The decision of the Pope has a message for us all: one of humility, courage, wisdom to acknowledge his limitations. The Pope is someone of great realism. Knows the problems of the situation of the Church in today’s world. Has a broad view.
The Pope’s health and reasons to step down
There are no specific illnesses that lead to the Pope’s resignation. Fr. Lombardi says the Pope has had a pacemaker for 10 years. Routine maintenance 3 months ago as reported by newspapers. The trip to Mexico and Cuba was part of the process that led to the Pope’s decision to step back.
World Youth Day
World Youth Day is in its essence a meeting of the youth with the Pope. So it is very, very likely the new pope will be there. Of course, the new pope can decide what he wants, but it is normal to assume that Benedict XVI’s successor will go to Rio.
The Pope’s writings and living quarters after retirement
After his retirement, pope Benedict XVI will have no tasks or responsibilities in the Vatican, it’s possible that in the future, he will choose another place to stay, but for the time being, he will live in the Vatican at the monastery of Mater Ecclesiae.
The Pope’s planned encyclical letter on Faith won’t be released before Feb. 28, instead it will be released later as reflections. Pope Benedict XVI has often expressed his desire to pray and to write. We hope he might write something for us too.
The monastery of Mater Ecclesiae is currently being renovated; the sisters will move out, no new sisters to replace them. The Pope himself made the decision to continue to live at the Vatican. The Pope always walks around in the Vatican to pray the rosary, so he knows the monastery well, and knows what is possible.
Fr. Lombardi says he doesn’t know yet how we will have to call pope Benedict XVI after he steps down. A Journalist uses “Papa Emeritus”, “Pope Emeritus” to indicate the Pope after he steps down. Fr. Lombardi says that the Pope will enter history as pope Benedict XVI, but we await instructions about his title after his resignation. Pope Benedict XVI will certainly remain bishop emeritus of Rome, but we’ll have to see if that is the title he prefers to use.
The decision to announce the resignation was the Pope’s own, but of course there has been consultation about the calendar.
Conclave and Installation Mass
The conclave must begin at least 15 and no later than 20 days after the resignation of pope Benedict XVI and Sede Vacante. On March 1, we have the situation of Sede Vacante.
Preparations of the Conclave then begin. Several meetings
before the Conclave. Date of the Conclave depends on the Apostolic Constitution. Cardinal Marini is studying this.
This is a new situation, so we will have to see what to do with rituals like the destruction of the Pope’s fisherman’s ring. Pope Benedict XVI will not intervene in the process of the election of the new pope. The cardinals will be autonomous. The Pope is not a cardinal. He will not participate in the Conclave.
The new pope
It’s up to pope Benedict and the new pope to decide if he will participate during installation Mass of new pope. The fact that Benedict XVI will continue to live in the Vatican will be no obstacle whatsoever for his successor, on the contrary. It will be a great support for the new Pope to have someone around who understands like no other what it means to be Pope. His successor will probably feel supported by the prayer of pope Benedict XVI after he resigns.
The Pope doesn’t gather the cardinals for the new conclave; they are smart enough to know that they should be here in March. It’s not a problem if some cardinals arrive early in the Vatican to visit the pope.
That’s the end of today’s press conference in the Vatican. Hope you enjoyed my live tweets. I apologize for possible translation errors.
We may be religious or not, we may agree or disagree with Pope Benedict’s views, but I believe we should admire a decision that places the best interest of the Catholic Church above his own prestige.