Monday, February 11, 2013

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone: Who's in charge when a Pope leaves his post?

Rome, Italy - Now that Benedict XVI announced that he will leave his post as Pope, the question is, who exactly will be in charge?

On February 28th, 2013 at 8.00 p.m. Rome time, the See of Peter will be vacant, a term known as the 'Sede Vacante.' So, in the following days, a conclave to elect a new Pope will begin.

During this transition, the chamberlain will be in charge. Right now, that post is held by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who also serves as the Vatican's Secretary of State.

To prevent any forgery, he must also break the pope's fisherman's ring by hitting it with a small hammer.

The pope's apartment must then be sealed by Cardinal Bertone, to prevent the tampering of any official documents. He's also in charge of organizing the conclave where the College of Cardinals meet to elect the new pope.

Until a pope is elected , which is indicated by the white smoke that comes out of the Sistine Chapel's chimney, the chamberlain is also charge of administrative issues.

But, when it comes to making key decisions in the Church, his authority is limited.

All Vatican officials symbolically lose their post, at least for the time being. Three representatives though, are spared. These include the prefect of the Apostolic Penitentiary, Manuel Monteiro de Castro, also the vicar of Rome held by Cardinal Agostino Vallini and chamberlain Bertone.

No more than 20 days can pass before the conclave starts. During that time, cardinals from all over the world, go to the Vatican, to take on the great task of electing the Church's new leader.

- Rome Reports