Vatican Press Office Director Confirms Details of Pontiff's Final Week
Fr. Federico Lombardi Also Clarified Several Issues Regarding Conclave, Media Speculations
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Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, today presented information related to the Holy Father's calendar and clarified several issues that have been raised in the past few days. Also present at the briefing was Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, CEO of Canada's Salt & Light TV, who was personally asked by Fr. Lombardi to assist with press relations.
Fr. Lombardi gave details on the Holy Father's last week as Supreme Pontiff before the resignation goes into effect Feb. 28. Currently the Pope, along with the Roman Curia, is attending the Lenten spiritual exercises led by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi. At the conclusion of the exercises this Saturday, the Holy Father will address those present. Later on, Pope Benedict will meet privately with Giorgio Napolitano, president of the Italian Republic.
On Sunday, the Holy Father will address the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square for the final Angelus address of his pontificate. On Wednesday, thousands are expected to attend the Holy Father's final General Audience in St. Peter's Square. As of now, over 30,000 people have requested tickets for the audience. The Holy Father will greet participants in the Popemobile at the end of the audience. Fr. Lombardi also denied reports that there will be liturgy of the Word, saying the audience will follow the same format as prior General Audiences.
On the final day of his pontificate, Pope Benedict will personally greet all the cardinals present in Rome though the Holy Father will not be delivering an address. At 5:00pm, the Holy Father will greet Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State in the San Damaso Courtyard, before arriving at the Vatican heliport where he will bid farewell to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, and fly to the papal residence at Castel Gandolfo.
Upon his arrival, the Holy Father will be received by the president and secretary of the Governorate of Vatican City, along with the mayor of Castel Gandolfo and several civil authorities. The Pope is expected to greet the faithful present from the balcony of the Apostolic Palace.
Clarifications on Molto Propio, Media Speculations
Fr. Lombardi confirmed that the date of the conclave, which has been the subject of much speculation in the media, is established solely by the congregation of cardinals during the time of Sede Vacante.
Also, there is still no confirmation as to whether Pope Benedict will release a Motu Proprio prior to his resignation. The document could specify some details regarding the conclave as regulated by the Apostolic Constitution "Universi Dominici Gregis."
The director of the Holy See Press Office also denied an alleged report that a possible decision on the definition of relations with the Society of St. Pius X would be made tomorrow. The Holy Father, he said, "has decided to entrust the matter to the next Pope."