The pope is preparing for his retirement in style. Pope Benedict XV1 gave his farewell address in a speech Wednesday morning before a cheering crowd of more than 100,000 in front of St. Peter’s, where he acknowledged moments of great joy and difficulty and asked followers to pray for him in his retirement, acording to MSN today. "The spotlight will remain on Benedict, however, for at least another day before attention turns to the highly ritualized conclave that will choose his successor," added Reuters.
"At 11 a.m. Thursday, Italian time, he is scheduled to meet the cardinals that have rushed to Rome for the historic event. Each will have the chance to say a few parting words to him, but a major speech is not expected," according to Reuters.
"The personal goodbyes will continue as he leaves the Apostolic Palace before 5 p.m. and is driven to the helipad, where Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, will see him off," according to the news syndicate.
"The 85-year-old pope knows how to fly a helicopter but presumably will rely on a pilot from the 13th Squadron of the Italian Air Force for the jaunt to the hilltop town where he will live in his summer residence for a few months while a monastery in the Vatican Gardens is prepared for him," added Reuters. It is a retirement fit for a prince of the church.
"Town priests are planning a prayer vigil in Castel Gandolfo to begin a few hours before Benedict’s arrival, and he is likely to bestow a brief greeting on the thousands crammed into the town square, clutching rosaries and candles," according to Reuters on MSN.
"Once he leaves Rome, there will be only a few more hours in his papacy, which officially ends at the stroke of 8 p.m. Thursday. From that moment on, he will be known as pope emeritus, and aides say a life of quiet reflection will commence," according to the report.
“I think we’ll probably catch some glimpses of him walking in the garden,” Vatican spokesman Greg Burke told NBC’s TODAY. “He’s not the kind of guy who is going on a book tour.”
"At the Vatican, the Swiss Guards will go off duty – and the cardinals will be officially called back to work the next day with a formal announcement of what’s called the sede vacante, Latin for "the seat being vacant," added MSN. "A Vatican spokesman told the Catholic News Service the college will probably not meet over the weekend but could gather the following Monday for informal talks to set a date for the conclave and begin talking about priorities for 266th pope," added MSN.
"Under old church law, the conclave couldn’t start until March 15, but an amendment this week will allow the cardinals to push up the date as along as all 115 electors are in place. There were supposed to be 117, but one is too sick to attend and another recused himself after being accused of inappropriate behavior with priests," added MSN.
"And, of course, the Vatican guesthouse where the cardinals will stay during the conclave must be swept for listening devices before they can move in for the duration," according to the report.
Papal conclave to commence
"The length of the conclave — with its four secret ballots a day, cast in the Sistine Chapel — is anyone's guess; it took just two days to elect Benedict and three to choose his predecessor, John Paul II.," added MSN. "Vatican watchers say there is no clear front-runner and Benedict's legacy will loom large as they look to the future."
"An introverted theologian, he is credited with pushing the "new evangelization" and repairing rifts with Jews but faulted for not taking stronger action as a sex-abuse scandal tarnished the church's reputation and letting the Vatican bureaucracy run amok," according to the report.
He alluded to the crises during Wednesday's address, saying he had often felt like "St. Peter with the Apostles in the boat on the Sea of Galilee," added MSN.
"The Lord has given us many days of sunshine and gentle breeze, days in which the catch has been abundant," he said to the crowd. "[But] there have been times when the seas were rough and the wind against us, as in the whole history of the Church it has ever been — and the Lord seemed to sleep."
Staten Island religious educators, you will have a lot to talk with your students about as his final day in the public eye commences tomorrow and his successor gets chosen. Staten Island teachers and parents, this web site will continue to report on these historical developments as they unfold.