This morning Pope Benedict XVI greeted the cardinals who have already gathered in Rome ahead of the Conclave to elect his successor and during an audience thanked them for their help over the last eight years and pledged his obedience to his successor who (chances are) was probably already in the room.
He also reminded the cardinals (quoting Romano Guardini) "The Church is not an institution devised and built at table, but a living reality. She lives along the course of time by transforming Herself, like any living being, yet Her nature remains the same. At Her heart is Christ. "
Going on he reminded the cardinals "This was our experience yesterday, I think, in the square. We could see that the Church is a living body, animated by the Holy Spirit, and truly lives by the power of God, She is in the world but not of the world. She is of God, of Christ, of the Spirit, as we saw yesterday. This is why another eloquent expression of Guardini’s is also true: "The Church is awakening in souls." The Church lives, grows and awakens in those souls which like the Virgin Mary accept and conceive the Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. They offer to God their flesh and in their own poverty and humility become capable of giving birth to Christ in the world today. Through the Church the mystery of the Incarnation remains present forever. Christ continues to walk through all times in all places. Let us remain united, dear brothers, to this mystery, in prayer, especially in daily Eucharist, and thus serve the Church and all humanity. This is our joy that no one can take from us."
Full text of the address is here.
At 5pm Rome time, Pope Benedict XVI will be transported to Castel Gandolfo where he will be greeted by a number of dignitaries and also appear to the crowd gathered in the square before the papal villa. At the same time a last papal tweet from Pope Benedict XVI will be issued on the @pontifex twitter account which will then go silent until the new pope decides what he wants to do with it.
|The ombrellino (the "little umbrella") to be more precise. This symbol will replace the papal tiara over the crossed keys of the Vatican's emblem" during the interregnum between the resignation of the Pope Benedict XVI and the emergence of his successor, to symbolize the lack of a Pope. If you look closely, you will find it on formal Vatican documents, on the masthead of the daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, both in hard copy and digital form. The Vatican State Post Office customarily issues stamps to mark this intermediate reign. - Read more here|
At 8pm, when the sede vacante begins, the Swiss guard will depart from the papal villa signifying that their role is to protect the Supreme Pontiff has ended as from that moment there is no Pope, and during a sede vacante their role is defend the College of Cardinals while it deliberates over a new successor. The security detail of Pope Emeritus Benedict will be dealt with by the Vatican gendarmerie.
At the same time, the papal seals and "ring of the fisherman" will be destroyed by the Camerlengo, Cardinal Bertone, and the papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace in Rome will be sealed. At that stage the camerlengo will declare the sede vacante and the Dean of the College of Cardinals - Cardinal Sodano - will officially summon the College together to meet in conclave to elect the next successor of St Peter.
Rocco has some more details over at Whispers. There is a lot of online coverage of todays events but we would recommend you keep an eye on Vatican news website News.va and in particular the Vatican Radio section. For anyone on Facebook, check out Vatican Radio's FB page.
As we enter into this moment of transition, there will be a lot a coverage, speculation and down right wishful thinking by commentators and pundits alike. But as Pope Benedict XVI has been reminding us since he announced his decision to step down, this matter is now in the hands of the real Head of the Church. As Catholic Christians we are called to pray..........