Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday he would resign Feb. 28, the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years. The last pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415 in a deal to end the Great Western Schism among competing papal. The decision sets the stage for a conclave to elect a new pope before the end of March. A new Pope will be elected. The pope's resignation is almost unprecedented. How is the new pope chosen? A papal conclave is now on the cards, a meeting of the College of Cardinals convened to elect a new Bishop of Rome, also known as the Pope. The 85-year-old pope announced his decision in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals Monday morning. There are several papal contenders in the wings, but no obvious front-runner as was the case when Benedict was elected pontiff in 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II. Fernando Filoni, 66, is cardinal waiting in the wings who seems to be the front runner.
Historical text narrates that there are many elaborate rites and traditions involved when the pope is dead and electing a new pope, some dating from the Middle Ages:'' The camerlengo's first duty is to perform a medieval ritual. At the deathbed of the pope, the camerlengo takes a silver hammer and lightly taps on the pope's forehead three times, calling him by his Christian name. When there is no reply, he announces to those present that the pope is dead. The camerlengo then removes the Fisherman's Ring from the Pope's finger. At the first meeting of the Sacred College, the ring and papal seals are broken.'' all this is superfluous in the present case. Pope will retire to the Papal residence in Castel Gandolfo when his resignation shall become effective. 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.
Nowadays a new tradition is established like that of sweeping the Vatican buildings for electronic listening devices. The Sacred College of Cardinals, the electoral body which chooses the pope, will meet and vote in the Sistine Chapel. Breaking with tradition, though, they won't be locked in. Instead they'll live in nearby Casa Santa Marta, new hotel-style facilities in the Vatican, and will bused across the short distance to the chapel where Michelangelo painted the ceiling and Last Judgement frescoes.
Pope Benedict XVI said "After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths due to an advanced age are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry," he told the cardinals. "I am well aware that this ministry, due to it's essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only by words and deeds but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of St. Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary — strengths which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately the ministry entrusted to me."
Vatican source 'WHISPERS IN THE LOGGIA' have posted following clarifications: Pope Benedict XVI has given his resignation freely, in accordance with Canon 332 §2 of the Code of Canon Law. Pope Benedict XVI will not take part in the Conclave for the election of his successor. Also as canon law makes no provision whatsoever for the protocols and prerogatives of a retired Pope, so Benedict's preferences for his post-papacy will be setting an epochal precedent, both for the office and the life of the church it oversees.
Who is Fernando Filoni? Why we hopefully expect to see a white smoke after few votes.
Filoni is an Italian and a career Vatican official. Filoni is one of very few cardinals who could possibly claim a profound and perceptive understanding of the global vision that is now needed to steer Vatican new realities. He was given honorary citizenship of the town of Galatone to Archbishop Fernando Filoni-2007). Galatone is a town and comune located in Salento, in the province of Lecce (Apulia, Italy), ancient seat of the Marquess of Galatone. Fernando Filoni have served in the Secretariat of State early in his career, between diplomatic postings, and then from June 2007 to May 2011 as the all-important sostituto, or “substitute,” effectively the pope’s chief of staff. In 2008 Archbishop Filoni was awarded the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.
On 10 May 2011, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Filoni Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in succession to Cardinal Ivan Dias. He currently remains the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Vatican's sprawling and powerful missionary department. Filoni certainly knows the inner workings of the Vatican extremely well. Deeply erudite yet Filoni understands the straightforward simple touches; he is extremely grounded and has lived closed to the people. For the “Year of Faith”2012 his office distributed a rosary with beads of different colons between various decades, all representing the continents: white for Europe, red for America, yellow for Asia, blue for Oceania and green for Africa. The idea was to encourage people to plead for evangelization globally.
The 'Prefect' led by Fernando Filoni, that oversees the Catholic mission territories and is traditionally dubbed the "Red Pope" as a reflection of both the power of his congregation and the red vestments of the Cardinal Prefect. The office's sizeable resources supported by income from its long-maintained Roman real-estate holdings provide an important sum of funding to the efforts of the developing church. It concentrates on the episcopacy in mission areas, mainly African and Asian countries, a task that falls to the Congregation for Bishops in more established locales. Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai is the Secretary - Filoni's deputy of the Congregation. The knowledge of China and the government-controlled Chinese church will be crucial in resolving the long standing issue between the two entities if he is elected a new Pontiff.
Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, currently prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches also looks as a strong contender and a compromise candidate between the Italian and the global camp; but the problem that the sources in Vatican cite is that ''when he served in the late John Paul years under former Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, and thus arguably could be tied to some of the perceived failures from that period – most especially, inaction in the case of the late Mexican Father. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, on charges of sexual misconduct and abuse. Filoni, at least, does not carry that kind of baggage.'' Cardinal Angelo Scola. Pope Benedict promoted Cardinal Scola, 71, to Archbishop of Milan, giving him a powerbase in Italy's largest diocese. He is seen as an unyielding conservative and a strong manager for a crisis-ridden Church.
Those with the prospects of becoming the first black pope are Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, 64, he called last year for authority to regulate capitalism and has a streak of social conscience, the other one is Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria, 80, his age is against him. Brazilian Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, 63, a conservative who as Archbishop of Sao Paolo leads the largest diocese in the largest Catholic country is a contender as well as Cardinal Timothy Dolan, 63, the dynamic Archbishop of New York, his speech last year on spreading the faith in a secular world was very well received.
Filoni has served geophysically in diverse countries, he is a truly a global Cardinal, a rarity in Vatican present hierarchy of possible contenders. He was in Tehran during the Iran/Iraq war, in China for the reforms of Deng Xiaoping, and most famously, in Baghdad when the bombs fell in 2003. He has been in all the trouble spots of the world in the East, he was in Sri Lanka, from 198-83; served in Iran, 1983-1985, shortly after the Imam Khomeinite revolution. Was posted in Brazil, 1989-92; and moved to Hong Kong, 1992-2001, where he opened a “study mission” on mainland China. His most important appointment was when Pope John Paul II appointed Father Filoni as the Apostolic Nuncio to Iraq and Jordan on 17 January 2001, becoming Titular Archbishop of Volturnum. He received Episcopal Ordination from Pope John Paul on 19 March 2001; he came close to being killed in Baghdad on 1 February 2006, when a car bomb exploded next to the nunciature. "Thank God we survived" he stated afterwards. He served in Iraq and Jordan until 25 February 2006 when he returned to the Philippines as the Nuncio.he was in the Philippines, 2006-07.
Filoni’s biography will stir global imagination, his record in Iraq is impeccable. When all Western ambassadors fled including U.N. officials and many journalists, Filoni refused to abandon the local Catholic community and other suffering Iraqis.
“If the pastor flees in moments of difficulty,” he said, “the sheep are also lost.”
As prefect of the Vatican’s missionary department, Filoni has deep contacts with the church all across Africa. Every geopolitical issue albeit China, or Islam, Filoni appreciates and knows the origins well. His episcopal motto is Lumen gentium Christus, recalling the council’s dogmatic constitution on the church. He has never lost contact with the practical concerns of real people, rather than getting caught up in ideological debates. Filoni is very media shy but appreciate communications and media very well. He has a degree from Rome’s Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali, a celebrated private secular institution, where he studied “techniques of public opinion,” specializing in journalism.
Fast track promotions: Vatican had announced on 6 January,2012 that he would be created a cardinal on 18 February, 2012. He was created Cardinal-Deacon of Nostra Signora di Coromoto in San Giovanni di Dio. On 24 April 2012 Cardinal Filoni was made a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Congregation for the Oriental Churches, and the Congregation for Catholic Education. On 24 November 2012 he was appointed a member of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. He will hold these memberships until his 80th birthday.
This empty seat at the end of February will have a new Pontiff soon. One of the most famous traditions of the papal succession ritual is the appearance of smoke from the chimney of the conclave room. Black or the white smoke. The eligible cardinals conduct a secret ballot until someone receives a vote of two-thirds plus one. The ballots are burned after each vote. Black smoke (straw is mixed with the ballots) indicates a failed ballot, white smoke means a new pope has been elected.
Since the cardinals meet in isolation, it's the only way to inform the public about the proceedings. Hisotry suggests that ''Way back in the 13th century it took almost three years to install a new pope. After the death of Pope Clement IV, who died in 1268, church officials became involved in a bitter political struggle and many refused to vote. Finally, in an effort to break the stalemate, the cardinals were fed only bread and water. The roof of the building they were staying in was removed. The desperate measures worked, because a new pope was soon elected.'' This time hopefully with a front runner in place it will be a quick affair. We hopefully expect to see a white smoke after few votes.