A fair amount of news has been coming out of the Vatican and Italy regarding the papal resignation and conclave. Below is a round-up of some of the latest stories:
* Vaticanista Andrea Tornielli says Pope Benedict XVI will issue a motu proprio in the coming days to change the rules governing a papal conclave so that an earlier election of his successor can take place – if the College of Cardinals decides it wants an election sooner than the statutory 15 days after a pope’s death or resignation.
* Fr. Federico Lombardi’s statement:
* Perhaps with a view to ensuring accurate news is diffused during the conclave, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, has now set up his own twitter feed.
* Cardinal Walter Kasper, who will just make it into the conclave before he turns 80 next month, has told Corriere della Sera the “sacred aura” around the papacy has been slightly lost over the last two centuries and the role of the pope “needs to be rethought.”
* In the same article, Vatican television director, Fr. Edoardo Maria Vigano, says the Pope’s departure next Thursday will be an “historic event” and the station will try to cover it as much as possible, without invading too much Benedict XVI’s privacy.
* Reporting on the Pope’s final day, ANSA says that after flying by helicopter to Castel Gandolfo at 5pm on Thursday, the Pope will give his final farewell from the same internal courtyard balcony where he recited the Angelus in the past. Seven thousand people and a torchlight procession are expected to welcome him, according to Saverio Petrillo, director of the Pontifical Villas.
* Giacomo Galeazzi reports that Muslims have expressed their “great esteem” for the Pope “after the previous misunderstandings” that followed the Pope’s 2006 Regensburg lecture.
* Galeazzi reports that following the Vatileaks scandal, Vatican police introduced a number of sophisticated security measures in all Vatican buildings which the voting cardinals will have to abide by during all their journeys and meetings in Vatican City. He also reports on the concerns of Cardinal Timothy Dolan and others that the conclave procedure might be rushed.
* Sandro Magister reports on traditionalists opposed to the Pope’s resignation and one who believes the Holy Father should withdraw it.
* In an interview with Corriere della Sera, the Pope’s brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, says he does not think the Pope’s resignation is a revolt against tradition, nor a step aimed at changing the Church. “I don’t believe that was the purpose,” he said. “He has had another mission – to guide the people to live the Word of God. It’s a difficult mission, in a secularised society.” He says he “naturally regretted” his brother’s decision but fully understands it given his advanced age and failing strength. He said it was a “human decision inspired by God” but he didn’t know who else he talked to about it apart from him. “When he told me, the decision was already made,” he said. Msgr. Ratzinger assured that the Pope doesn’t want to be in the shadow of his successor, but said he believed that “he will continue to be called Benedict XVI.”
* Andrea Tornielli remarks on the “disconcerting” efforts to exclude Cardinal Roger Mahony from the conclave, and in particular the decision of the Italian weekly magazine Famiglia Cristiana to conduct a survey asking whether he should be able to participate or not given his record in the clerical sex abuse scandal. He said the campaign against the cardinal risks turning the conclave into an “ugly copy of a reality television show” in which self-appointed members of the public can expel candidates from the vote via SMS.