In a press briefing today at the Vatican, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, answered what many have been asking since Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation: What will his name be after he resigns?
“After he resigns, the Holy Father will be known as ‘His Holiness, Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus or Roman Pontiff Emeritus,'” Fr. Lombardi said. The Holy Father will dress in a simple white cassock without the mozzetta, the elbow length cape worn by popes. Satisfying the curiosity of many journalists, Fr. Lombardi added that the Holy Father has chosen to wear simple brown shoes which were given to him during his Apostolic Visit to Leon, Mexico, last year, and will not wear the traditional red shoes.
The director of the Vatican Press Office stated that over 50,000 tickets had been requested for the Holy Father’s final general audience tomorrow morning, although he stated that thousands more are expected to attend. With the exception of the tour around the square in the popemobile and the exclusion of the brief personal greetings after the address, the audience will take place as normal.
Fr. Lombardi also confirmed that the exclusion of the personal greetings, or bacciamano, was not due to security concerns, but simply because there were too many people who wanted to greet the Holy Father personally.
After the general audience, Pope Benedict XVI will head over to the Clementine Hall and meet with several local and international dignitaries. Among them will be the presidents of Slovakia and Bavaria, and the co-prince of Andorra.
On the final day of his pontificate, the Holy Father will meet with cardinals who are present in Rome for the upcoming conclave. In the afternoon, the Holy Father will make his way to the heliport where he will bid farewell to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, as well as the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.
The Pope will then fly to the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo where he will be received by Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello and Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, the president and secretary general of the Governorate of Vatican City State, respectively. Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano and civil authorities of Castel Gandolfo are also expected to be present. The Holy Father will then greet the faithful present from the balcony of the Apostolic Palace.
At 8:00 pm, when the time of Sede Vacante officially begins, the Swiss Guards, who are assigned to protect the Roman Pontiff, will take their leave. However, Fr. Lombardi said, the Gendarmerie, or the Vatican police force, will take over as the Pope Emeritus’ safety detail.
Fr. Lombardi also confirmed that Benedict XVI will no longer use the Fisherman’s Ring, and instead will use an episcopal ring. The task of destroying the ring along with the lead seal of Benedict XVI’s pontificate will fall to the Cardinal Camerlengo and his assistants.
After the Sede Vacante begins, Cardinal Sodano will send a letter to all the cardinals on March 1, summoning them to Rome for the conclave. Most likely, Fr. Lombardi said, “that the congregations will begin next week.”