Benedict gets new title, gives OK for earlier conclave
Papal conclave will start earlier than March 15.
The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI will be known in retirement as "pontiff emeritus". He will also be permitted to wear his white cassock, but the ruby slippers must go. Benedict has also authorized an earlier conclave.
Well wishers gathered for Pope Benedict ahead of his final public audience.
Emeritus is an honorary title given to people of high standing whereby they may keep their rank as part of their name. The title is common for retired, distinguished scholars in academic circles.
Benedict will still be called "His Holiness" although he will return to being Cardinal Ratzinger.
Benedict will also keep, and wear his white cassock while living a sequestered life in a Vatican monastery. This means there will be two men wearing the white cassock, although this should not create much confusion. The new pope will inherit the famous ruby slippers traditionally worn by pontiffs. Insiders say Benedict has picked out a pair of brown loafers to wear instead.
Not all of Benedict's changes involve wardrobes and titles. A new change was announced yesterday permitting the cardinals to move up the start of the papal conclave from March 15 to an earlier, unspecified date. This will minimize the papal interregnum.
The actual date to start the conclave won't be known before next Monday, March 4, when the first meeting of the College of Cardinals takes place.
Experts say the decision to move up the start date of the conclave will favor Vatican insiders, who are known to all the other Cardinals, as opposed to those cardinals who tend to stay close to home.
The Holy Father's last two days in office will be marked with the duties of transition including sorting papers, packing personal items, and moving. Benedict gave his last public audience earlier today and will step down tomorrow at precisely 8 p.m. local time.
Following that, he will depart for a summer house where he will stay for several weeks until renovations to the Vatican monastery are complete. He will then spend the balance of his retirement at the monastery, living in prayer and contemplation, and "hidden to the world."
© 2013, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Benedict XVI, Holy Father, resignation, College of Cardinals, monastery, retirement, successor, choice, election, pontiff emeritus, ruby slippers, cassock, papal conclave, start
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