Q&A: Life after the Vatican for Pope Benedict

 

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Q: What now for Benedict XVI?

A: First off, he’ll have to find a new place to live. He currently resides in the Papal Apartment, inside the Papal Palace building in the Vatican. The residence comes with the job, so temporarily he will move to Castel Gandolfo, a small town 15 miles outside Rome that is the official summer residence of the Pope. But once the new man is appointed he will soon leave.

Q: So what about a new permanent home?

A: A Vatican spokesman said yesterday that: “When renovation work on the monastery of cloistered nuns inside the Vatican is complete, the Holy Father will move there for a period of prayer and reflection.” This would prove a problem without precedent for whoever takes over – having the previous incumbent casting a shadow over your tenure is not something any other pope has had to deal with. Longer term, some experts speculate he may move to a monastery in Switzerland or Germany.

Q: What will he be called?

A: Once he’s no longer Pope, Cardinal Ratzinger once again. He will also no longer be referred to as ‘his holiness’. But the prefix cardinal denotes someone who is active in the church, and it would be highly unusual for someone who was once the Pope to remain active once he has abdicated. What is for certain is that he will not be involved in the selection of his successor – only cardinals aged under 80 can participate, and Benedict is 85.

Q: Did anyone know he was going to quit?

A: The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, says he has known since Christmas. Yesterday the Archbishop of Rio, Orani Tempesta, revealed that when a date was fixed for a papal visit to Brazil this year for World Youth Day, Benedict XVI replied: “The Pope will go to World Youth Day, whether it is me or my successor.” A new pope often follows arrangements made for his predecessor, so a trip to South America could be on.

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