It’s official: Benedict XVI will be “Pope Emeritus”

One of the first questions raised by the announcement of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation earlier this month—what will the “retired” pontiff be called?—has finally received an official answer from the Vatican.

“He will still be called His Holiness Benedict XVI … But he will also be called Pope Emeritus or Roman Pontiff Emeritus,” said Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, at a press briefing today in Rome.

Lombardi offered further details about Benedict’s final days as pope; from Catholic News Agency:

There will also be a highly symbolic moment to signal the end of the Pope’s ministry.
The Swiss Guards will be standing at the gates of Castel Gandolfo and at 8:00 p.m. they will leave their stations.

“They symbolically protect the Pope, so they will no longer be necessary. But don’t worry because there will still be Vatican police protecting the Vatican gardens and its surroundings,” Fr. Lombardi explained.

Fifty thousand tickets have been given out for Pope Benedict’s last general audience tomorrow, but Vatican officials are expecting more people.

Fr. Lombardi said the general audience will follow its usual procedure and will have the pontiff travel around St. Peter’s Square in his popemobile.

Lombardi also specified that Benedict will wear a simple white cassock as Pope Emeritus, without the mozzetta, or short cape, that he wears as Supreme Pontiff. There was also this detail, about the Holy Father’s famous red shoes:

“The city of Leon is known for beautiful shoes, and very comfortable shoes. And when the Pope was asked what he wanted to wear he said, ‘I want the shoes from Leon in Mexico,’” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told journalists Feb. 26.

“It will no longer be the red shoes that you have seen him wear. He has chosen to keep brown shoes that were given to him on his recent trip,” he said.

And Benedict will not keep his Fisherman’s ring, as some had speculated he might:

He will replace the Fisherman’s ring worn by Popes with an episcopal ring from his time as Cardinal Ratzinger. The Pope’s ring and seal will be broken at a particular moment determined by the College of Cardinals and its chamberlain, in accordance with the sede vacante norms.


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About Catherine Harmon 577 Articles
Catherine Harmon is managing editor of Catholic World Report.