The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

March 1, 2013

With no pope, Catholic Church leaderless for now



VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Catholic Church awoke Friday with no leader following the resignation of Benedict XVI, who pledged obedience to his successor and described himself as "simply a pilgrim" starting the final journey of his life.

Now begins a period known as the "sede vacante" or "vacant see" — the transition between the end of one papacy and the start of another.

During this limited time, several key players take charge of running the Holy See, guiding the College of Cardinals in their deliberations and organizing the conclave of cardinals whose votes elect Benedict's successor.

With the 8 p.m. Thursday end of Benedict's papacy, every department head in the Vatican lost his job — except for those whose offices are considered crucial for the smooth running of the transition period.

On Monday, the cardinals begin meetings to set the conclave date and discuss problems facing the Catholic church.

Here are the top figures who will run the church in the coming days:

___

THE CAMERLENGO: Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

The camerlengo, or chamberlain, takes over the day-to-day running the Holy See as soon as the papacy ends. He places the seal on the pope's study and bedroom and takes possession of the Apostolic Palace, "safeguarding and administering the goods and temporal rights of the Holy See" until a new pope is elected. On Thursday night, Bertone sealed the papal apartment, which will not be reopened until a new pope is elected.

Benedict in 2007 gave the camerlengo job to Bertone, 78, a natural choice given that Bertone is currently the Vatican No. 2 as secretary of state and runs the Vatican bureaucracy anyway. A priest of the Salesian order, Bertone was trained as a canon lawyer and taught in various Roman universities for several years before coming to work for the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at the Vatican's doctrine office in 1995.

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