World War 3 and the destruction of the seven hilled cith is upon is. I expect a Jesuit, Cardinal Arinze to be the next pope. Petrus Romanus will oversee the great apostasy and the desturction of the church in its current form.
Catholic Church downplays prophecy about ‘last pope’
By Philip C. Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
5:57 am | Wednesday, February 13th, 2013
Ghanian Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson talks to the Associated Press during an interview in Rome Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013. One of Africa’s brightest hopes to be the next pope, Turkson says the time is right for a pontiff from the developing world. A Catholic Church official downplayed on Tuesday the prophecy of a 12th-century Irish saint who supposedly predicted that the next Pope would be the last and the end of the world would follow.
MANILA, Philippines—It’s not the end of the world, yet.
A Catholic Church official downplayed on Tuesday, the prophecy of a 12th-century Irish saint who supposedly predicted that the next Pope would be the last and the end of the world would follow.
Fr. Francis Lucas, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Social Communications and Mass Media, said the prophecies of St. Malachy about the popes of the Catholic Church were sometimes inaccurate.
“It’s not always exact (and) the end of the world has always been prophesied and lately, almost every two years or every year we hear about a prophecy about the end of the world,” Lucas said in a Church-organized forum in Intramuros, Manila.
“What I’d like to say is when you talk about prophecies, it’s not always about the future. That is often times the wrong way of looking at prophecy. A prophet is somebody who speaks in behalf of somebody else,” he added.
St. Malachy supposedly predicted that the Church would suffer persecution under the next Pope and, afterwards, Rome would be destroyed and the Last Judgment would commence.
The prophecies have again been discussed in social media sites after Pope Benedict XVI’s surprise decision to resign. The last time a Pope resigned was 600 years ago.
But Lucas said the faithful should not give a literal interpretation of the St. Malachy prophecy.
“What he is saying is there could be a cleansing, a purging of the Church. When that will happen or the end of the world, nobody knows because his explanations are sometimes mythical and mystical,” Lucas said.
He said believers should concentrate on the “ultimate message of God” in these prophecies and not focus on the “material events.”
“Look for the message and we need to really reflect. We need to convert ourselves. We need to be real witnesses to our faith. We have to stand by our faith,” Lucas said.
VATICAN CITY— Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation opens the door to an array of possible successors, from the conservative cardinal of Milan to a contender from Ghana and several Latin Americans. But don’t count on a radical change of course for the Catholic Church: Benedict appointed the majority of cardinals who will choose his successor from within their own ranks.
There’s no clear front-runner, though several leading candidates have been mentioned over the years as “papabile”—or having the qualities of a pope.
So, will the papacy return to Italy, after three decades of a Polish and a German pope? Or does Latin America, which counts some 40 percent of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, deserve one of their own at the church’s helm?
Will a younger cardinal be considered, now that future popes can feel freer to resign? Or will it again go to an experienced cardinal for another “transitional” papacy?
The 110-plus cardinals who are under age 80 and eligible to vote will weigh all those questions and more when they sequester themselves in the Sistine Chapel next month to choose Benedict’s successor, a conclave that will likely produce a new pope by Easter.
Some said Benedict’s resignation presents an opportunity to turn to Africa or Latin America, where Catholicism is more vibrant.
“Europe today is going through a period of cultural tiredness, exhaustion, which is reflected in the way Christianity is lived,” said Monsignor Antonio Marto, the bishop of Fatima in central Portugal. “You don’t see that in Africa or Latin America, where there is a freshness, an enthusiasm about living the faith.”
“Perhaps we need a pope who can look beyond Europe and bring to the entire church a certain vitality that is seen on other continents.”
Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of South Africa agreed.
“I think we would have a better chance of getting someone outside of the Northern hemisphere this time, because there are some really promising cardinals from other parts of the world,” he said.
Despite that enthusiasm, more than half of those eligible to vote in the College of Cardinals hail from Europe, giving the continent an edge even though there’s no rule that cardinals vote according to their geographic blocs.
It’s also likely the next pope won’t radically alter the church’s course, though surprises are possible.
“Given the preponderance of cardinals appointed by popes John Paul and Benedict, it is unlikely that the next pope will make many radical changes,” said the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit author. “On the other hand, the papacy can change a man, and the Holy Spirit is always ready to surprise.”
A handful of Italians fit the bill, top among them Cardinal Angelo Scola, the archbishop of Milan. Scola is close to Benedict, has a fierce intellect and leads the most important archdiocese in Italy—no small thing given that Italians still dominate the College of Cardinals.
On Monday, Scola, 71, donned his bishops’ miter and appeared in Milan’s Duomo to praise Benedict’s “absolutely extraordinary faith and humility.”
“This decision, even though it fills us with surprise—and at first glance it leaves us with many questions — will be, as he said, for the good of the church,” Scola said.
Other leading Italians include Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Vatican’s culture office and another intellectual heavyweight who quotes Hegel and Neitzsche as easily, and almost as frequently, as the Gospels. He has climbed into the spotlight with his “Courtyard of the Gentiles” project, an initiative to enter into dialogue with the worlds of art, culture and science—and most importantly atheists.
Veteran Vatican analyst John Allen Jr. has labeled the 70-year-old Ravasi as quite possibly “the most interesting man in the church.” Raising his profile further: Benedict appointed him to lead the Vatican’s spiritual exercises during Lent, giving Ravasi a visible forum in the weeks leading up to the conclave.
Benedict’s onetime theology student, Viennese Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, 68, has long been considered to have the stuff of a pope—multilingual, affable and, most importantly, Benedict’s blessing.
He has been dealing, however, with difficulties in Vienna, where a revolt of dissident priests has questioned Church teachings on everything from women’s ordination to celibacy for priests. His decision to let a gay Catholic serve on a parish council raised eyebrows among some conservatives, who said the move clearly sealed his fate as too liberal for today’s College of Cardinals.
There are a handful of candidates from Latin America—and by Monday their backers were in full force touting their attributes.
“It’s time for there to be a Latin American pope, because Latin America has the greatest number of Christians,” said the Rev. Juan Angel Lopez, spokesman for the Catholic Church of Honduras. His man, Honduran Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, however, is considered far too liberal to be elected by such a conservative bloc.
Leading Latin American possibilities include Brazilian Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, the 63-year-old archbishop of Sao Paulo, and Argentine Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, 69, head of the Vatican’s office for Eastern rite churches. Sandri earned fame as the “voice” of Pope John Paul II when the pontiff lost the ability to speak because of his Parkinson’s disease.
Brazilian Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, 65, has earned praise as head of the Vatican’s office for religious congregations, even though he’s only held the job since 2011. He has had the difficult task of trying to rebuild trust between the Vatican and religious orders that broke down during his predecessor’s reign.
His deputy took that effort too far in reaching out to US nuns who were the subject of a Vatican doctrinal crackdown, and was subsequently sent back to the US.
Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson of Ghana is one of the highest-ranking African cardinals at the Vatican, currently heading the Vatican’s office for justice and peace. But he is prone to gaffes, though, and is considered something of a wild card.
Cardinal Antonio Tagle, the archbishop of Manila, is a rising star in the Church, but at 56 and having only been named a cardinal last year, he is considered too young.
North America has a few candidates, though the Americans are considered longshots. These include Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Cardinal Raymond Burke, an arch-conservative and the Vatican’s top judge.
Canadian Cardinal Marc Oeullet is a contender, earning the respect of his colleagues as head of the Vatican’s office for bishops, a tough and important job vetting the world’s bishops.
Michele Dillon, a University of New Hampshire sociologist who studies the Church, said no “radical transformation” is expected in the direction of the Church and that a “tweak” here and there would be more likely than an overhaul.
“The Church obviously is well regarded for its continuity,” Dillon said. “I’m not personally expecting a transformative change, but change is always possible.”
“We felt like children clinging to a father who bids them farewell,” Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said a day after Pope Benedict XVI, 85, announced that he was resigning on Feb. 28.
Tagle urged the faithful to pray for the Pope, saying that the Pontiff’s decision came as a surprise that brought sadness to Catholics, but also showed his courage and sincerity.
“But sadness gives way to admiration for the Holy Father’s humility, honesty, courage and sincerity. His paramount desire is to promote the greater good of the Church,” Tagle added in a statement.
Benedict, who was elected to the papacy in 2005 when he was 78, said he no longer had the strength to cope with the demands of the ministry.
Tagle among front-runners
Tagle has been mentioned as a “papabile” (papal contender).
Reuters on Monday named Tagle, 55, the second-youngest cardinal, as among the Top 10 front-runners to become the next Pope.
Following the Pontiff’s announcement, Denverpost.com ran profiles of Benedict’s potential successors, including Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz of Brasilia; Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York; Cardinal Marc Oellet, head of the Congregation for Bishops; Gianfranco Ravasi, Vatican culture minister; Cardinal Leonardo Sandri; Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer of Sao Paolo; Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn; Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan; Tagle; and Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Vatican justice and peace bureau.
The Denverpost.com described Tagle as a charismatic cardinal who had worked with the Pope at the International Theological Commission.
It, however, said that while Tagle had many fans, conclaves were “wary” of young candidates.
That Tagle is among the reported papabili is an “honor” for the Philippines, said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.
“As to whether they are really going to consider Cardinal Tagle, we leave it to the conclave to decide,” Lacierda said.
All cardinal electors are eligible candidates with Tagle being the lone Filipino vote, according to Msgr. Joselito Asis, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
But he said Filipinos should not get their hopes too high about having one of their countrymen on the papal throne by next month.
Work of Holy Spirit
“This is the work of the Holy Spirit … As of now, if we look at the cardinal electors, they really can’t pinpoint a dominant name so this is going to be exciting,” Asis said.
Of the 118 cardinal electors as of Jan. 28, the biggest bloc was from Europe (62), followed by Latin America (19), North America (14), Africa (11), Asia (11) and Oceania (1), according to the Vatican website.
Of the 62 Europeans, 28 are Italian, many of them working in the Curia. Before mid-March, two cardinal electors are set to reach the age of 80, which means they can no longer vote in a conclave to elect a new Pope.
The conclave of cardinals is expected to be held in March within 15 or 20 days of the resignation. A new Pope is expected to be elected before March 31.
“Cardinal Tagle is a papabile but we are never sure. We leave it to the Holy Spirit to do the job of electing the Pope,” said Fr. Francis Lucas, executive secretary of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Social Communications and Mass Media.
“Any Pope will do as long as he leads us in the right direction and leads us. [The] color [of the skin] does not matter especially in the globalized Church,” Lucas added.
“Of course, we Filipinos would like a Filipino to be the Pope. I guess all countries would be proud if one of their own cardinals become Pope,” he said.
The Philippines is one of the most important countries in Asia for the Catholic Church. About 80 percent of the country’s 100 million people are Catholic, a legacy of the country’s former Spanish colonial rule.
Asked what qualities would make Cardinal Tagle eligible for the papacy, Lucas said: “He’s humble, meek, simple, bright, media-savvy, spiritual. It’s like ‘all of the above.’”
Indication in book
Fr. Catalino Arevalo, considered the “dean” of Filipino theologians, said the Pope had intimated in a book interview two years ago that the head of the Roman Catholic Church in the modern era could resign if he could no longer do the job.
“Benedict is a great man. This confirms it. He also has been a great Pope. I am very sad to lose him but he is certain God wants this now of him. In that book of interviews two years ago—“Light of the World”—he said this might be really necessary for a Pope who believed he could no longer do his job adequately,” Arevalo said.
He said he had half-expected this might happen. “Benedict is a man who is free enough to take the step. As I said, I’m very sad but the Pope believes he should now do it, from his love for the Church,” Arevalo added.
Batangas Archbishop Ramon Arguelles said the resignation of Benedict was a shock to many Catholics. “Let us pray for the Holy Mother Church which suffers this serious crisis. Benedict XVI’s declared Year of Faith is never so relevant for us as now,” he said.
While Catholic Church leaders in the Visayas felt sad over the Pope’s resignation, they expressed admiration for his decision to give up his position because of failing health.
Msgr. Meliton Oso, executive director of the Jaro Archdiocesan Social Action Center in Iloilo, said the Pope’s resignation provided a “shining” example.
“Here is a person vested with so much and vast powers who, after discerning and prayer, resigned from his position and let others assume his post,” Oso said.
He said Benedict’s decision to step down by admitting his inability to cope with his work due to old age should be followed by leaders in and out of the Church.
“Let us follow his example. Let’s do a ‘Benedict’ if we are already a hindrance to growth and reforms,” Oso said, adding that the Pope’s decision was timely for the Philippines, which will be holding elections in May.
Message to dynasty
“[The Pope’s resignation] is a slap on the face of political dynasties that cling to power for generations come what may,” he added.
Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra agreed. “With the Pope’s resignation, the message for the whole Church from the lay people to the clergy is to be willing to rearrange our lives according to what God wants us to do, and not be engrossed in personal interest, and in grasping for power and authority,” Navarra pointed out.
Archbishop John Du of the archdiocese of Palo, Leyte, who made a statement through his media spokesman, Fr. Amadeo Alvero, said the Church would still need the Pope’s wisdom, especially in major decisions it would be making.—With reports from TJ Burgonio in Manila; Nestor Burgos Jr., Carla P. Gomez, Joey Gabieta, Jhunnex Napallacan and Carmel Matus, Inquirer Visayas; and AFP
Bishops turn in a courtesy resignation when they hit their 75th birthday. Cardinals aged 80 and beyond cannot participate in a conclave to elect a new pope. So what is so shocking about the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI?
Here is a man who took charge of his life, accepted his limitations, and made a decision for the good of the institution rather than himself. All popes in recent memory did not step down from office until they died, but there are a number of popes in history who resigned or abdicated or sold their office. Pontian (pope in 23-235) was exiled to the mines of Sardinia by Emperor Maximinus Thrax and abdicated on Sept. 28, 235. Saint Marcellinus (296-304), Liberius (352-366), and John XVIII (1004-1009) all resigned.
Benedict IX was the most colorful of all; he reigned as pope not once but thrice. His first term was in 1032-1044, when his father arranged that he become pope in his teens. He was a homosexual, and history records the orgies he organized in his palace. Expelled from Rome, he was replaced by Sylvester III, but in April-May 1045 he returned and sold the papacy to Gregory VI. He served a last term in 1047-1048. Definitely a pope that the Church would want to forget, but his life would make a great teleserye.
The resigned pope that most people seem to remember before Benedict XVI was Celestine V aka Peter Celestine, a monk and hermit who founded the religious order that now bears his name. “Peter Celestine” was one of the three names I submitted to my abbot before I was clothed as a Benedictine novice in 1993. Having the chance to choose a new name rather than the awful ones imposed on me by my parents at baptism and in the birth registry was one of the attractions of monastic life. One not only gets a new name as one enters a new life, one also discards one’s birthday and celebrates the feast of one’s saint.
My three choices were: Ignacio Maria (because I had spent most of my schooling, more than half my life, under the Jesuits), Wilfrido Maria (for a saintly Spanish abbot in Manila, Wilfrido Rojo, who lived the last years of his life in England), and Peter Celestine (a name I saw on a marble slab in the cloister as PETRVS CELESTINVS GUSI, the name of the Spanish abbot who built the beautiful abbey buildings in Manila). Peter Celestine came to mind when I heard that Benedict XVI had resigned as pope because when Celestine V resigned in 1294 after five months (July-December 1294) on the Chair of Peter, he retired to a cell in a palace where he spent the rest of his days praying, reading, copying and binding books. Now that is a life I would look forward to.
It is not well-known that after the 2009 earthquake that damaged the church of Aquila in Italy, Benedict XVI visited and was shown the remains of Celestine V in a glass case. After venerating the holy relic, the Pope made a gesture that only now in retrospect becomes relevant: He took off his pallium, the white narrow band with black crosses that forms a “Y” on vestments, and offered it on a glass casket as a present. It is significant that this same pallium was that given him when he became Bishop of Rome or Pope in 2005. Was he, that early, already thinking of early retirement? Having assisted John Paul II in the latter’s last years, Benedict XVI perhaps realized that resignation was the best option.
A pallium is an archbishop’s symbol of authority, and in the olden times an archbishop could not exercise his authority until he had received the pallium from Rome. When I was a student in London, I attended services in Westminster Cathedral and was assigned once or twice to carry the mitre of Basil Cardinal Hume. After Mass I would take his pallium, fold it neatly, and tuck it into a special silver box that went into the treasury. I handled it with reverence and awe, knowing its history. Pallia are woven from the wool of white lambs shorn by Trappist monks on the feast of St. Agnes and presented by the nuns of the convent of St. Agnes. Then the wool is sent to the Benedictine nuns of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere to be woven into pallia.
Everything a pope wears, from his white skullcap to his especially made white or red Ferragamo shoes, has a historical and symbolic meaning. On his inauguration, Benedict XVI wore a pallium wider than those of his predecessor John Paul II and metropolitan archbishops. Later he changed his pallium to have red, instead of black, crosses, to be distinct from archbishops. What seemed like simple design changes then now gain significance in the wake of his resignation.
After his resignation, Celestine V was happy to live the life of a hermit. But his successor did not know what to do with another living anointed pope, so he had Celestine “imprisoned” until his death. No such medieval fate awaits Benedict XVI, who can return to his books and read.
Who will the new pope be? That we do not know. This early, TV reports are speculating on a non-European nonwhite pope from Africa, Latin America, or Asia, where the flock is thickest. But you must remember that more than half of the cardinals are from Europe. The Philippines has three cardinals, but two are over 80, leaving us with Cardinal Luis Tagle as a possible papabile, or papal candidate. As they say, Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.
The pope and his predecessor: a study in contrasts
By Jean-Louis de la Vaissiere
7:05 am | Wednesday, February 13th, 2013
VATICAN CITY—Pope Benedict XVI has spent much of his eight-year papacy in the shadow of his larger-than-life predecessor John Paul II, only to burst into the limelight with his shock resignation announcement on Monday.
But the stark contrasts between the Polish pope—a former stage actor who loved human contact—and the shy and media-averse Benedict belie an identical view of the world.
Their conservative positions matured over the more than two decades when Benedict, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was the head of the Vatican body that enforces Catholic Church doctrine.
Both grew up under totalitarian regimes, whether Nazi or Stalinist, and both constantly warned darkly against a return to “barbarism” when man looks no further than himself—and not to God—to determine his destiny.
Several of John Paul II’s encyclicals directly reflected the thinking of his cerebral Bavarian aide.
One of the best known, titled “Faith and Reason,” expounded on their shared positions on the family and homosexuality.
The two were also on the same page on a range of life issues including abortion, contraception and euthanasia.
Both worked for rapprochement with Jews, spoke of Europe’s “Christian roots,” sought dialogue with agnostics, and demanded a place for religion in the modern public arena.
While both supported this over-reaching message of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, they also called the faithful out on what they saw as taking the reforms too far.
Here the convergence between the two holy men ends.
Benedict, by deciding to step down rather than live out his papacy come what may, set himself radically apart from his predecessor.
And while the pope delivered the announcement with his characteristic reserve, it was a historic bombshell in the Catholic world and beyond.
John Paul II chose to soldier on as Parkinson’s disease ravaged him further with each passing week, turning his visible personal suffering into a way of sharing that of millions of others—a metaphor for bearing the cross.
But many, even within the Church, took a dim view of such a prolonged and public agony, feeling it dwelt too heavily on pain as an expression of faith.
It was also a period during which a rudderless Vatican was unable to manage the start of the predator priest crisis that has dogged it ever since.
Vatican experts say Benedict XVI wants to avoid such a scenario, and that his decision is also in line with his more pragmatic temperament, his sense that the head of the Catholic Church should be in full possession of his faculties in “today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes,” as the pontiff put it on Monday.
Benedict, since the start of his papacy, has also distinguished himself from his predecessor by seeking to diminish his stature, deferring to “God alone” as the main actor in Catholic life.
Indeed, he said on accepting the papacy that he would be a “simple servant in the Lord’s vineyard.”
According to his brother Georg and others close to the pontiff, he was not impressed by the enormous power he wielded, feeling most at home with his intellectual pursuits, notably writing a trilogy about Jesus.
Just three days before he announced his resignation, the pope told an audience of seminarians: “It is mistaken triumphalism to say that God chose me because I am great.”
VATICAN CITY—Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation on February 28 will leave his successor a formidable to-do list as the head of a Roman Catholic Church hit hard by sex abuse and money laundering scandals, internal bickering and growing secularism in Europe.
Here is a list of key issues facing the future pope:
■ SEX ABUSE: After sordid revelations of child abuse by priests erupted in Europe and the United States, Benedict apologized for the Church’s role in turning a blind eye and protecting abusers, but campaigners say not enough has been done to bring suspects before the law. The revelations appear to be far from over: the latest case saw a Los Angeles bishop stripped of his office last month after being linked to an abuse cover-up.
■ VATICAN MONEY LAUNDERING: Plagued by a dark history of murky financial dealings and accusations of mafia ties, the Vatican bank has promised to step up efforts against money laundering. Despite insisting it wants to make it on to the White List of financially virtuous states, moves to increase transparency have been plodding. The head of the bank was sacked in May last year — according to some because he was too zealous at sniffing out suspicious deals — and his successor has still not been named.
■ HOMOSEXUALITY AND GAY MARRIAGE: This is one of the Vatican’s most critical issues. While condemning violence against homosexuals, Benedict has refused to be shaken on the Church’s teachings on the traditional family of father, mother and child, and intervened directly in recent heated debates in France and Britain on same-sex marriage. In December, Benedict said mankind was at stake, insisting that same-sex unions called into question what it means to be “true men”.
■ CURIA, SECRETS AND INTRIGUE: Absorbed by his studies, the academic Benedict has failed to gain control of or reform the Curia, the Church’s secretive and powerful governing body. Dominated by Italian clerics, the curia is key to a papacy because it can intervene in unfavored papal decisions and uphold the status quo. Benedict was hit hard by the “Vatileaks scandal” last year, where memos leaked by his butler revealed infighting, intrigue and a power struggle at the heart of the Church. The challenge for the future pope will be to stamp his authority on the curia.
■ ORDINATION OF WOMEN AND PRIEST CELIBACY: Calls from self-proclaimed disobedient priests and campaigners to end priest celibacy, and accept women into the clergy to fill positions left empty as priest numbers dwindle, were denounced by Benedict last year as self-serving. He insisted the Church does not have God’s authority to ordain women and said celibacy was central to the priesthood — but amid increasing calls for clergy to be allowed to marry and claims that abstention may have contributed to sex abuse scandals, the future pope may have to re-think the issue.
■ ABORTION: Benedict has insisted on the Vatican’s “duty” to defend “basic human values” by refusing to counter abortion or euthanasia, describing attempts to “select people and exclude others from humanity” as utterly immoral. In 2010 he appointed to a top Vatican job Canadian cardinal Marc Ouellet, who has said that abortion is a “moral crime” even in rape cases. Ouellet is among those tipped as a possible contender for the papacy. Roman Catholic teaching on scientific and medical procedures dealing with human reproduction are currently lagging behind biomedical and bioethical research on infertility in particular.
(philstar.com) | Updated February 13, 2013 - 4:28am
VATICAN CITY (AP) — For months, construction crews have been renovating a four-story building attached to a monastery on the northern edge of the Vatican gardens where nuns would live for a few years at a time in cloister.
Only a handful of Vatican officials knew it would one day be Pope Benedict XVI's retirement home.
On yesterday, construction materials littered the front lawn of the house and plastic tubing snaked down from the top floor to a cargo container. The restoration has become even more critical following Benedict's announcement that he will resign Feb. 28 and live his remaining days here in prayer.
From a new name to this new home to the awkward reality of having a reigning pope and a retired one, Benedict is facing uncharted territory as he becomes the first pontiff in six centuries to retire.
The Vatican on yesterday tried to quash any notion that Benedict aimed to pull strings behind the scenes. The Rev. Federico Lombardi, a top spokesman, said Benedict will have no influence on the election of his successor.
"The pope will surely say absolutely nothing about the process of election," he told reporters.
The 85-year-old Benedict said Monday he was stepping down simply because he simply no longer had the strength in mind or body to carry on. Lombardi on yesterday also revealed for the first time that Benedict has had a pacemaker for years and had its battery replaced just a few months ago.
Although no date for a conclave to choose the next pope has been announced, it must begin within 20 days of his Feb. 28 retirement. That means a new pope will likely be elected by the College of Cardinals by Easter — March 31 this year.
The decision immediately raised questions about what Benedict would be called, where he would live — and how that might affect his successor.
The Vatican's senior communications adviser, Greg Burke, said yesterday the fact that Benedict had chosen to live in a monastery is significant.
"It is something that he has wanted to do for a while," Burke said. "But I think it also suggests that his role is going to be a very quiet one, and that is important so you don't have a situation of ... two different popes at the same time, and one influencing the other.
"I think the obvious thing is when he says retirement, it really means retiring," he said.
As for his name, Burke said Benedict would most likely be referred to "Bishop of Rome, emeritus" as opposed to "Pope Emeritus." Lombardi also said Benedict would take some kind of "emeritus" title.
Other Vatican officials said it would probably be up to the next pope to decide Benedict's new title, and wouldn't exclude that he might still be called "Your Holiness" as a courtesy, much as retired presidents are often referred to as "President." It was not clear whether the retired pope will retain the name Benedict - or revert to being called Joseph Ratzinger again.
Benedict had important unfinished business before his retirement: He has been widely expected to issue his fourth encyclical, concerning faith, before Easter. But Lombardi ruled out that the encyclical would be ready before his retirement.
Already, Benedict was changing his schedule to take into account his new circumstances. He had been scheduled to go to a church on Rome's Aventine hill for the annual Ash Wednesday service this week starting the church's Lenten season; the service will take place in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome instead. Lombardi said a larger space was needed to accommodate the throngs expected to greet the outgoing pope - but observers suspect the Vatican may have also wanted to spare Benedict from the crowds along the hill.
Immediately after his resignation, Benedict will spend some time at the papal summer retreat in Castel Gandolfo, overlooking Lake Albano in the hills south of Rome where he has spent his summer vacations reading and writing. By March, the weather may start to warm up and he should be able to enjoy the gardens and feed the goldfish in a pond near a statue of the Madonna where he often liked to visit.
If he's interested, he can do some star gazing; The Vatican Observatory is located inside the palazzo, complete with a telescope and a world-class collection of meteorites.
Lombardi said Benedict would eventually return to the Vatican and live at a monastery inside the Vatican gardens. Asked if he might like to go somewhere else, Lombardi said the pope would feel "much safer" inside the Vatican walls.
The Mater Ecclesiae monastery was built in 1992, on the site of a former residence for the Vatican's gardeners. Pope John Paul II had wanted a residence inside the Vatican walls to host contemplative religious orders, and over the years several different orders would come for spells of a few years, said Giovanni Maria Vian, the editor of the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.
The last such order of nuns left the residence in October, and renovation work began immediately afterward, Vian told AP. He said Benedict had decided to retire last April after his taxing but exhilarating trip to Mexico and Cuba in March.
"Many people thought they were doing the renovations for new sisters, but it was for the pope," Vian said. He said only a few people knew of the pope's plans, yet the secret didn't get out.
"That shows the seriousness and loyalty of the few senior Holy See officials who were aware," he said — a reference to the 2012 scandal over leaked papal documents by the pope's own butler.
Benedict has visited the monastery, with its own chapel on the grounds, a handful of times over the years.
There's a garden right outside the front door, where the nuns living there would tend to the lemon and orange trees as well as the roses, which are used in liturgical ceremonies or sent as gifts to the pope. No chemical fertilizers are used, just organic fertilizer sent straight from the gardens at Castel Gandolfo.
Regardless of who succeeds Pope Benedict XVI, he won’t be back
By Washington Post staff, Feb 12, 2013 09:19 PM EST
The Washington Post Wednesday, February 13, 5:19 AM
The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI has spurred discussions worldwide about the Catholic church and the direction in which it should move. In America, Catholicism is at a crossroads, wrote Marc Fisher:
As the church suddenly faces an unexpected transition, American Catholicism is shrinking in size and splitting into two often harshly opposing camps — growing more polarized in faith, just as the nation has divided itself politically and socially.
The sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the U.S. church, along with its hard-line stands on celibate priests, homosexuality and ordaining women, have pushed many Americans away from the church, which is still the nation’s largest single denomination.
The prospect of a new pope provides a new focus for the world’s fourth-largest Catholic population, as Americans ask whether Catholicism will grow smaller but hew to traditional doctrine or follow its members as they adapt to a fast-changing society.
The latest surveys of American Catholics reveal sharp drops in weekly Mass attendance, a majority in support of legalizing same-sex marriage, and a large majority who say they do not look to the Vatican as the moral authority on sexual matters such as contraception, marriage and abortion, said William D’Antonio, a sociologist at Catholic University and author of a national survey that has tracked Catholic attitudes for 25 years.
“The laity are saying, ‘We can work things out for ourselves, these are matters for our own conscience, not questions where we just follow what the church is demanding,’ ” he said.
The direction the Catholic Church will move in might be largely affected by whomever is elected to replace Benedict. Michelle Boorstein reported:
For centuries, the job of a pope was a relatively manageable affair. Candidates were largely Italian, the flock Western. One could even disappear from public, as Pope Pius XI did for a couple of years in the 1930s so people wouldn’t see that he’d been using a wheelchair. In the 13th century, the position was vacant for 31 / 2 years.
By contrast, the cardinals preparing to select a replacement for Pope Benedict XVI are seeking one whopper of a résumé. The role now calls for a spiritual figure able to inspire and unify a 1.1 billion-member global church that’s simultaneously booming and collapsing, and whose flock seems to agree on little. Management acumen is essential, Twitter fluency preferable. Hours: 24-7.
In some ways, the selection of a new pope will have more potential to influence the future of Catholicism than the election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then 78, in 2005.
In the eight years since Pope Benedict took office, the divisions in the Catholic world have become more solidified. The West, including Europe and the United States, has been locked in a culture war over contraception, homosexuality and the role of women in the church, among other issues. Meanwhile, more theologically traditional Catholics in Africa and parts of Asia have fueled much of the church’s growth, threatening a standoff with Islam.
No matter who replaces Benedict, one thing is for certain: He will not be returning as the pope again. The Associated Press wrote:
The Vatican went out of its way Tuesday to declare that for Pope Benedict XVI, retirement means just that: Retirement.
With speculation swirling around his future role, the Vatican’s chief spokesman explicitly stated that Benedict will not influence the election of his successor. And he deepened the sense of finality by saying that Benedict’s papal ring and other powerful emblems of authority will be destroyed after his Feb. 28 abdication — just as they are after a papal death.
So, while the first papal resignation in 600 years has left behind a vast uncharted territory to navigate — how does one address or even dress a retired pope? — the church has tried to send a clear message that Benedict will not be pulling strings from behind the scenes. His brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, says the pope will be withdrawing even further from religious life — probably even giving up his beloved theological writing.
“The pope will surely say absolutely nothing about the process of the election,” Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi told reporters at a briefing. “He will not interfere in any way.”