Pope for dummies: What will Benedict XVI do on his last day in office?

Pope Benedict XVI leads his last Angelus prayer before stepping down in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican. Credit: Reuters
Pope Benedict XVI leads his last Angelus prayer before stepping down in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican.
Credit: Reuters

The Pope is resigning: an unprecedented event in modern times. Indeed, because the event is so unusual, the Catholic Church is charting new territory as Benedict XVI leaves office. Metro explains.

What happens on February 28?

This is the last day of Benedict XVI’s pontificate. In the morning, he meets with cardinals at the Vatican. Cardinals, which are based in countries around the world, have travelled to Rome for this event. They convene again in March to elect a new Pope.

At 4:55 pm, Benedict XVI bids farewell to his staff and the Swiss Guards at the Vatican Apostolic Palace and travels by helicopter to Castel Gandolfo, the Pope’s vacation residence. Once there, he will greet the crowds from the balcony.

At 8pm, Benedict XVI officially relinquishes the papacy. The Swiss Guards, who serve the Pope, depart and are replaced by soldiers of the Vatican Gendarmerie, who will be responsible for Benedict XVI’s security until he dies.

What will the Pope do next? Is he even a Pope anymore?

As this is unchartered territory for the Church, officials have had to come up with new solutions. Benedict will be known as “Pope Emeritus” and will still be called “His Holiness Benedict XVI”. He’ll continue the white cassock reserved for Popes, but not the cape. Benedict, a renowned scholar, will live in a monastery, where he will spend his time studying and writing.

A new Pope hasn’t been elected yet. Who will be in charge?

The Vatican bureaucracy will continue as usual, headed by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. Until a new Pontiff is elected, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Dean of the College of Cardinals, will lead the clergy in a caretaker capacity.

When will a new Pope be elected?

Nobody knows. Around March 1, Cardinal Sodano, the Dean of the College of Cardinals, will call all cardinals to a conclave. In one of his final acts as Pope, Benedict XVI amended Canon Law, which regulates the Catholic Church, so as to allow a speedy election of a new Pontiff. Ordinarily the conclave begins 15-20 days after the death of the incumbent, which would mean the cardinals would convene no earlier than March 15, but the conclave may now be brought forward. All cardinals not younger than 80 are eligible to vote; that means that 115 cardinals will be voting this time.

How long will it take them to elect a new Pontiff?

It depends. It took the cardinals three ballots, over one and a half days, to elect Pope Benedict XVI, and all recent papal elections have been relatively speedy. There will definitely be a new Pope in place before Holy Week, which begins on March 25.

How will we know the Cardinals have made their choice?

Ah, the famous white smoke. After each round of voting in the Sistine Chapel, the cardinals burn their ballots in a fireplace whose chimney is visible to the crowds on St. Peter’s Square. Added dye makes the smoke black. When a winner emerges, the ballots are burned without the dye. The white smoke tells the world that a new Pontiff has been elected. An official then steps out on the balcony, announcing the famous words Habemus Papam, and the new Pontiff emerges.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.