Pope Benedict XVI promised “unconditional” obedience to his successor during a farewell meeting with cardinals in the Vatican on Thursday.
Around 5 p.m., Benedict will leave the palace for the last time as pontiff and fly to the papal retreat at Castel Gandolfo.
Bye bye Benedict. Hello interregnum, also known as “sede vacante” — the period when the papacy is vacant.
Be sure to cast your vote for Benedict’s successor in our famous Sweet Sistine brackets. Voting for the first round closes at midnight Friday.
Catholic News Service reports that the group of cardinals preparing to elect a new pope is slightly older — by four months — than the group that elected Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 2005. The average age of the 117 eligible cardinal-electors was 71 years, 11 months.