Pope Benedict XVI has officially left his position as leader of the Catholic Church. Now the burden of leadership has shifted to the cardinals. During the “Vatican See,” or period between the end of one pope’s reign and the election of a new pope, Benedict’s former Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone will serve as the interim leader of The Vatican, serving all functions except nominating new bishops, approving decrees or publishing documents. Instead of the traditional task of certifying the pope’s death, Bertone will destroy the Fisherman’s Ring Benedict wore to symbolize the end of his papacy.
His most central duty will be organizing the election of a new pope. The cardinals are scheduled to begin a dialogue on the subject at 9:30 a.m. local time on Monday. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, made it clear that a date for voting on a new pope will not be set “until all the elector cardinals have arrived.”
“Everybody, including myself, wants to have a conclave as soon as possible,” New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan told Reuters. “We miss the pope and we need a new one. And all of us have full-time jobs we want to get back to.”
In the meantime, the 85-year-old Pope Emeritus had no difficulty settling into his retirement. According to his secretary, he slept soundly in the papal summer residence Castel Gandolfo, where he will stay for about two months. He also watched televised broadcasts of his retirement on TV, brought his favorite music records and books to the residence, and plans to resume playing the piano.