NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Timothy Cardinal Dolan left for the Vatican Tuesday, where he will take in his first conclave as concerns continue to mount about potential conflicts arising from having both a reigning and a retired pope.
As CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis reported, Dolan left his Midtown residence Tuesday afternoon. He was to head immediately to the Vatican in Rome.
Once there, Dolan will join the conclave of 115 cardinals under the age of 80, charged with selecting a new world leader of the Roman Catholic faith.
“I hope to get to Rome in time for the audience — his last audience – just to go,” Dolan said. “And then Thursday will be with him for a while, and that I look forward to, and that will drive it home because literally we will say goodbye.”
Dolan’s trip comes within hours of the Vatican announcing a new name and position for Pope Benedict XVI, the first pope to retire in 600 years.
He will be known as “Pope Emeritus” or “Your Holiness Benedict XVI” in his retirement, and will continue to wear the white cassock associated with the papacy. But he will not wear the elbow-length cape or the red papal shoes, reflecting the 85-year-old pontiff’s abdication and the naming of a new pope after a period of daily discussion and prayer.
“In those daily sessions, each cardinal will share the challenges the church is facing; the priorities,” Dolan said.
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Benedict himself had made the decision in consultation with others, settling on “Your Holiness Benedict XVI” and either emeritus pope or emeritus Roman pontiff.
Lombardi said he didn’t know why Benedict had decided to drop his other main title: bishop of Rome.
Benedict’s decision to call himself emeritus pope and to keep wearing white is sure to fan concern voiced privately by some cardinals about the awkward reality of having two popes, both living within the Vatican walls.
Lombardi also elaborated on the College of Cardinals meetings that will take place after the papacy becomes vacant in which cardinals will discuss the problems facing the Church and set a date for the start of the conclave to elect Benedict’s successor.
The first meeting isn’t expected until Monday, Lombardi said, since the official convocation to cardinals to come to Rome will only go out on Friday — the first day of what’s known as the “sede vacante,” or the vacancy between papacies.
Pope Benedict’s final general audience in St. Peter’s Square is set for Wednesday, with Dolan deflecting any talk that he could become the next Pope.
“I’ve got a round-trip ticket,” Dolan said without elaborating.
Benedict on Monday gave the cardinals the go-ahead to move up the start date of the conclave — tossing out the traditional 15-day waiting period. But the cardinals won’t actually set a date for the conclave until they begin meeting officially Monday.
Dolan was elevated to cardinal by Benedict last year. Before leaving, he called participating in the conclave to elect Benedict’s successor an “awesome responsibility.”
Lombardi also further described Benedict’s final 48 hours as pope: On Tuesday, he was packing, arranging for documents to be sent to the various archives at the Vatican and separating out the personal papers he will take with him into retirement.
On Wednesday, Benedict will hold his final public general audience in St. Peter’s Square — an event that has already seen 50,000 ticket requests. He won’t greet visiting prelates or VIPs as he normally does at the end but will greet some visiting political leaders — from San Marino, Andorra and his native Bavaria — privately afterwards.
On Thursday, the pope meets with his cardinals in the morning and then flies by helicopter at 5 p.m. to Castel Gandolfo, the papal residence south of Rome. He will greet parishioners there from the palazzo’s loggia (balcony), his final public act as pope.
And at 8 p.m., the exact time at which his retirement becomes official, the Swiss Guards standing outside the doors of the palazzo at Castel Gandolfo will go inside, their service protecting the head of the Catholic Church now finished.
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