Pope Benedict has announced his retirement. This is shocking to some in the Catholic community, because his closest advisors were not expecting the announcement. Also, the last Pope who resigned while in office was over 600 years ago. Pope Benedict didn’t feel healthy enough to continue with the demands of the jobs

It takes a strong person to go against the norm. But, prior to office, this was a characteristic of “Benedict the Bull”, who was even called “God’s Rottweiler” for his strong stances. Interestingly enough, after he was Pope, he earned a new nickname, “Benedict the Benign”.

It is interesting is the transition time. About two weeks. Many of us are used to giving that when we leave a position, but one of such significance – it seems short to me. But, conversely I’d rather one retires when he feels it’s time. He did say he gave it hours of prayer and reflection.

So, who will be the new pope and how does it work?
There are some front runners.

Cardinal Angelo Scola, age 71 from Milan

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, age 68, from Quebec

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, age 69 from Argentina, Vatican’s Secretary of State

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, Age 69, from Italy

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, age 70, from Genoa

Cardinal Peter Turkson, age 64, from Ghana

Cardinal Odilo Scherer, age ?, from Brazil

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, age 63, New York, USA

So, the Papal enclave will meet soon and make decision in the Sistine Chapel. It was only 8 years ago, and most of the same men will be in attendance. The color of the smoke signals the results to the people assembled in St Peter’s Square. Dark smoke signals that the ballot did not result in an election, while white smoke signals that a new pope was chosen. Next, bells will ring after a successful election, to augment the white smoke, and especially if the white smoke is not unambiguously white.

Signed,

Curious and waiting for the smoke signals in America.

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