Father Thomas S. Willis, rector of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Augustine, has announced to Historic City News that Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has announced that he will resign as Bishop of Rome and, therefore, as the Vicar of Christ on February 28th.
Let us pray for him as, no doubt, this was a difficult decision for him to make. Benedict has a great love for Christ and His Church and I can’t imagine that he would do this unless for the reasons that he cited in his statement to the Cardinals this morning.
The process to elect his successor begins on February 28. On that date, Benedict will no longer exercise his duties as Supreme Pontiff.
The norms established in 1996 by Blessed John Paul II in the document Universi Dominici Gregis will come into force. The only difference is that in 2007 Benedict changed one requirement, namely, that the vote for the new pope must be a two-third majority. [John Paul had previously allowed for an “absolute majority” if the cardinal-electors could not come to agreement after several days in the conclave.]
So, on February 28, or shortly thereafter, the Dean of the College of Cardinals will announce the date of the conclave. It cannot come any less than 15 days after the See has become vacant, i.e., Feb. 28, but no more than 20 days.
But we can begin praying now for the Holy Spirit to come upon the College of Cardinals as they prepare for this most important of tasks.