The last hours of Benedict XVI’s Pontificate

The last working day in office of Pope Benedict XVI. has begun. After nearly eight years, his pontificate ends today at 8:00 pm, the time of the Sede Vacante (“empty chair Petri”) begins.

At 5:00 p.m., Benedict XVI boards the helicopter  in the Vatican gardens, which will take him and the members of his household to the Papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. Before his departure to Castel Gandolfo the Pope will say good bye to all those Cardinalspresent in Rome.

In Castel Gandolfo Benedict’s last public act will take place – a greeting to the faithful from the balcony of the palace. In March, the Cardinals will meet in the Conclave, to determine a successor to Benedict, who had surprisingly announced his resignation for the end of the month well two weeks ago.


Peal of bells for the farewell

The city of Rome says goodbye with bells ringing for the German Pope. After Benedict XVI. left the Vatican around 5 p.m, a few hours before the official end of his term, to go to Castel Gandolfo via helicopter, all bells will be rung in the Rome diocese to bid farewell .

Then they will also ring upon his arrival in Castel Gandolfo, where the Pope will spend the next two months, reported the Bishop of Albano, Marcello Semeraro. The private documents of the Pope are brought to Castel Gandolfo, the rest of the documents shall be kept in the Vatican archives.

Pilgrim to Castel Gandolfo

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The possible successor to Pope Benedict XVI.

These are some possible successor to the papacy:

OSCAR ANDRES RODRIGUEZ MARADIAGA (70) of Honduras, a Salesian, was sometimes hailed as the rising star of the Latin American Church. The polyglot cleric speaks a and passable German due to his psychotherapy studies in Innsbruck, Austria. He is an avid musician and is also open to ecumenical questions.

JORGE MARIO BERGOGLIO (76), is the Archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina and makes himself strong for the socially disadvantaged. Being a Jesuit, it is difficult to estimate whether this can be a disadvantage or advantage. Never in the history of the church was a Jesuit pope.

CHRISTOPH SCHÖNBORN (67): The Archbishop of Vienna has a reputation as a crisis manager after the scandals involving Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer and Bishop Kurt Krenn, but is also known for his conciliatory and pragmatic dialogue. After the resignation of Groer, who was involved in a child sex scandal in 1995, he became his successor. He made himself a name in the world as an editor of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. His liberal statements on homosexuality have caused some debates within the church.

Peter Erdö (60): The Hungarian is the Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest since 2003. He is also Primate of the country. In 2006 he was appointed President of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences.

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