What Happens After the Pope Steps Down?

The sudden resignation of Pope Benedict XVI has many Catholics wondering what exactly will happen when the Holy Father officially steps down and leaves the See of Peter vacant.

According to Rome Reports, the moment Pope Benedict steps down, which will be 8:00 p.m. Rome time on February 28, the See of Peter will become “Sede Vacante”, which means vacant. Because the vacancy of the papacy is not due to the death of a pope, there is no need for a nine-day official mourning period and will allow the Conclave to begin the process of electing a new pope.

However, until a new pope is elected, the chamberlain is in charge of the Church. This post is held by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone who also serves as the Secretary of State.

Immediately after the resignation, Cardinal Bertone will break the pope’s fisherman’s ring by hitting it with a small hammer. This is done because the fisherman’s ring, which is unique to each pope and is used to seal official papal documents, must be destroyed in order to prevent forgery.

Next, the Cardinal will seal the pope’s apartment to prevent anyone from tampering with his documents.

After this, he will then get to the business of organizing the conclave where the College of Cardinals will meet to elect a new pope, an event that usually occurs within 20 days of a vacancy.

Cardinal Bertone will remain in charge until a new pope is elected; however, his authority to make key decisions in the Church is very limited.

Also during this time, “all Vatican officials symbolically lose their post, at least for the time being,” Rome Reports writes. “Three representatives though, are spared. These include the prefect of the Apostolic Penitentiary, Manuel Monteiro de Castro, also the vicar of Rome held by Cardinal Agostino Vallini and chamberlain Bertone.”

What will happen to Pope Benedict after he resigns? Will he still be referred to as Pope?

According to Rocco Palma of Whispers in the Loggia, the pope will move to the papal residence in Castel Gandolfo immediately after his resignation becomes effective. When renovation work is completed on a monastery of cloistered nuns inside the Vatican is completed, he will move there for a period of prayer and reflection.

As to how we will refer to the pope after his resignation, Palma warns that we are in unchartered territory.

“. . . (C)anon law makes no provision whatsoever for the protocols and prerogatives of a retired Pope, so Benedict’s preferences for his post-papacy will be setting an epochal precedent, both for the office and the life of the church it oversees,” Palma writes.

“The lone item of canon law to even mention a pontiff’s resignation is Canon 332, paragraph 2, which states that ‘If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone’.”

“Along the same lines, there is no established protocol whatsoever for the titles, status or prerogatives of a retired Pope.”

© All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®  http://www.womenofgrace.com


Comments are closed.