Vatican plans big send off for pope, consultations begin

VATICAN CITY Tue Feb 12, 2013 12:18pm EST

1 of 12. Tourists walk past pictures of Pope Benedict XVI displayed in a shop in Rome February 12, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Tony Gentile (

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Cardinals around the world began informal contacts to discuss who should next lead the Church through a period of major crisis and the Vatican said it planned a big send-off for Pope Benedict before he becomes the first pontiff in centuries to resign.

At a Tuesday news conference on how the pope plans to spend the next two weeks before he steps out of the limelight, the Vatican also disclosed that the 85-year-old Benedict has been wearing a pacemaker since before he was elected pope in 2005.

It said no specific illness led him to resign, merely old age and diminishing mental and physical strength.

It also said he would not play any role in the running of the Church after his February 28 resignation.

"The pope has said in his declaration that he will use his time for prayer and reflection and will not have any responsibility for guidance of the Church or any administrative or government responsibility," said Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi.

"This is absolutely clear and this is the sense of the resignation," Lombardi said, adding that he "will not intervene in any way" in trying to influence the choice of his successor.

The shock announcement sent the Vatican scrambling to change venues of some papal activities so that more people can see him before the resignation.

On Wednesday, the pope was to have led a traditional Ash Wednesday service at a small church in Rome but the event has been moved to St Peter's Basilica for what will likely be his last Mass in public.

His last general audience, scheduled for the day before his resignation, has been moved from the Vatican's audience hall, which has a capacity of some 10,000 people, to St Peter's Square, which can hold hundreds of thousands.


After he leaves office on February 28, he will go first to the papal summer residence south of Rome and then to a cloistered convent inside the Vatican walls, exchanging the splendor of his 16th century Apostolic Palace for a sober modern residence.

In mid-March, some 115 cardinals will enter the Sistine Chapel to elect the next leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics. Cardinals lose their right to enter a conclave when they turn 80 so the exact number will depend on the day of the start of the conclave.

While the Vatican began preparations for Benedict's last days as pope, Church sources said informal consultations on the phone, at lunches and via e mails have begun among cardinals about what type of leader the next pope should be.

After a string of scandals, Church experts say the cardinals will be looking for someone who is not only a holy man but also a good administrator.

"A lot of cardinals will tell you off the record if you ask them for their private assessment of this pope that personally he was a great man, holy, genuine, honest and humble and that his teachings will stand the test of time," said John Allen, author of several books on the Vatican.

"But they will also say that there was a regime around Benedict XVI that did not know how to make the trains run on time and they were often left to pick up the pieces of bombs that exploded here," he said.


Benedict has been faulted for putting too much power in the hands of his friend, Secretariat of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. Critics of Bertone, effectively the Vatican's chief administrator, said he should have prevented some papal mishaps and bureaucratic blunders.

Benedict's papacy was rocked by crises over sex abuse of children by priests in Europe and the United States, most of which preceded his time in office but came to light during it.

His reign also saw Muslim anger after he compared Islam to violence. Jews were upset over rehabilitation of a Holocaust denier. During a scandal over the Church's business dealings, his butler was accused of leaking his private papers.

"That was a perpetual frustration for the cardinals outside the Vatican and I think they are concerned that whoever takes over needs to be a little bit more attentive to the internal governance of the Church and of the Vatican in particular," Allen said.

Speculation has grown that the Church could appoint its first non-European leader to reflect the growing weight of regions such as Africa or Latin America, which now accounts for 42 percent of the world's Catholics.

"It could be time for a black pope, or a yellow one, or a red one, or a Latin American," said Guatemala's Archbishop Oscar Julio Vian Morales after Benedict's announcement.

After Benedict's relatively brief papacy, which followed the 27-year pontificate of John Paul II, the cardinals may also be inclined to choose a younger man than Benedict, who was 78 when he was elected.

Whoever is appointed will have to deal with regional issues and the tension between conservative Catholics who have supported Benedict's strictly traditional doctrinal line and others who feel he has stifled change and development.

"In Europe, the Church is seeking a new relationship to society. In many countries in Asia and Africa, it is experiencing an incredible expansion," Archbishop of Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn said.

Never as popular as the widely beloved John Paul, Benedict was a scholarly theologian with little of the shrewd political instinct which elevated his predecessor to the front rank of world statesmen.

His decision to leave office shocked some Catholics, who felt that a pope should stay in office until the end of his life, and his exit will leave the Church with both a retired and a serving pope for the first time in hundreds of years.

The last pope to leave office willingly was Celestine V, a saintly hermit who served only a few months before abdicating in December, 1294. Another pope, Gregory XII reluctantly abdicated in 1415 to end a dispute with a rival claimant to the papacy.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Additional reporting by James Mackenzie; Editing by Peter Graff)

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Comments (6)
Missourimule wrote:
As a Protestant, I have great respect for Pope Benedict: he is a very good man, a solid believer, who considers his beliefs, his theology more important than the popular trends of the day. The ‘rules’ of secular society fluctuate all the time . . . . God’s law should never change. And the Pope understood that.

Feb 11, 2013 10:23pm EST  --  Report as abuse
DeanMJackson wrote:
As I’ve been telling Reuters readers now for a year, there’s a “power struggle” going on within the Vatican that the media is not reporting. The “power struggle” has to do with Moscow’s infiltration of the Vatican by at least the Pontificate of John XXIII. This dating for the infiltration is good, since it coincides with the inexplicable refusal to release the Third Secret of Fatima by no later than 1960.*
Why would Communists worry about releasing what to them would be a silly superstition? The fact that the “silly superstition” mentioned the infiltration of the Catholic Church by what the document called “Satanic” forces would have been enough to keep the “inconvenient” document sealed. There was no way such a document was going to see the light of day, since its release would compel a closer examination of the Vatican by independent observers, possibly compromising Moscow’s recent usurpation of the Holy See.

However, thanks to the recent Vatican “power struggle” breaking into the open, Communists within the Holy See were forced to reveal their presence by the incredulous appointment of the Marxist-oriented, liberation theologist Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller to head up the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the purpose for the appointment to plug the damaging leaks from the Vatican. This is the man that the supposedly “conservative” Pope Benedict knows he can trust 100% to prevent any more embarrassing leaks from the Vatican…a Marxist-oriented, liberation theology enthusiast. Does this make sense to you?
We now have proof that the current “power struggle” within the Vatican has nothing to do with a clash of “conservative clerics” vs. “liberal clerics”.

This explains the Vatican’s inexplicable, and relatively new policy (fifty years old or so), of passing onto other parishes priests that sexually abuse children, ensuring (1) that the number of such sex crimes would increase geometrically; and (2) encourage pedophiles to join the seminaries. Now, such a policy could not be kept under wraps for long (as the Vatican well knew), since the massive number of crimes would have eventually reached a critical mass, exploding into the news headlines as they did. Only an INTENTIONAL Vatican policy of encouraging child sex crimes by priests explains the Vatican’s behavior these last fifty years. Believers in Christ wouldn’t subject children to sexual abuse, but Communists would in order to weaken the Catholic Church.

Believers would never institute a policy of passing sexual deviant priests onto other unsuspecting parishes since such an act would condemn the policy’s benefactors to everlasting Hell! Of course, Communists laugh at the concept of Hell, therefore they would have no trepidation nor see a moral problem with subjecting children to sexual abuse. Communists believe the ends justifies the means, so if children must suffer to bring about the Communist victory over the West, then the policy is moral.

Those of you not familiar with the true events taking place within the “former” USSR these past 21 years will naturally ask, “Wouldn’t the Moscow network within the Vatican have fallen apart as soon as the collapse of the USSR took place in late 1991?” Then why are Soviet era Communist agents still in control of the Russian Orthodox Church (and all other religious institutions within the 15 republics that made up the USSR, including religious institutions in the East Bloc)? Why weren’t those high-ranking Communist agent-Quislings identified and thrown out of the Christian denominations they still infest?

For the answer to that question, first Google: “Bulgaria protestant communist agents” and “Bulgaria orthodox communist agents”.

Bulgaria is the only nation to have created (belatedly) a Files Commission looking into Communist-era agents still in power there. Guess what they found? Communist-era agents still in control of the government, media, Churches and other institutions (and the Files Commission is only chartered to investigate from 2003 onwards).

If Files Commissions had been created in all not-so-former East Bloc nations/USSR republics, then we’d get the same results as Bulgaria: That Communist agents are still in control there too.

What this means is that the “collapse” of the USSR in late 1991 was a strategic ruse, as predicted by KGB defector Major Anatoliy Golitsyn (Golitsyn actually correctly predicted that East Bloc nations/USSR would first “liberalize” before they “collapsed”) , the only Soviet-era defector to still be under protective custody in the West, proving (1) the collapses of the USSR/East Bloc were strategic ruses; and (2) that all other Soviet-era defectors who followed Golitsyn were still loyal to their respective Communist intelligence agencies, since all of them provided incorrect intelligence on the future of the USSR/East Bloc.

Unless you’ve read Golitsyn’s 1984 book, “New Lies for Old” (available at Internet Archive), and become familiar with the Communists’ “Long-Range Policy” (which all Communist nations signed onto in 1960 as their “new” and more subtle strategy to neutralize the West), you are ignorant of all matters concerning foreign policy.

Beginning to get the wider picture now?

Now you know why the Russian electorate in 1992 failed to create a de-Communization program in order to ferret out Communist agents still in power. If the “collapse” of the USSR had been real, such a de-Communization program would have been immediately implemented.

The above also explains why the Russian electorate are only electing Soviet-era Communist Party members for President/Prime Minister. If the “collapse” of the USSR had been real, the Russian electorate would never have elected such Quislings back into power.
*Forty years later in 2000, the Vatican released a four-page forgery, not the one-page, approximately 25-lined document that had been read by a select few before 2000.

Feb 11, 2013 10:51pm EST  --  Report as abuse
victor672 wrote:
@Missourimule- If you think that the pope of Rome is a “solid believer” then there is grave doubt that you are anywhere near being a Christian. You need to rethink your theology if, indeed, you have any at all.

Even as I pray for the liberal Protestant churches to repudiate their apostasy and return to Christ, I pray that Rome would repent, reject her idolatry, and embrace the true, pure gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The occasion of the election of a new pope should be an encouragement for us to renew our prayers that the Lord would show mercy unto many in that communion and bring many out of her and/or cause her hierarchs to repent of their usurpations, to humble themselves, to reject all their idolatry and to begin to preach the gospel.

Feb 11, 2013 10:57pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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