By Mark Abrams and Pat Ciarrocchi
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The last day in office will be low-key for Pope Benedict XVI. He will meet with cardinals and turn in some of his Papal wardrobe.
Among those meeting with him is Philadelphia’s former archbishop, Cardinal Justin Rigali, who is now retired and living in the Diocese of Knoxville. He is among the cardinals who will elect Pope Benedict’s successor.
Rigali, who was voting for the first time in the college of cardinals in the 2005 conclave that saw the election of Benedict, says the retiring pope brought so much to the papacy during his eight years in office.
“He was first of all a great teacher. He was a great preacher of the word of God. He was a great pastor of the people. A great father to the church and a great servant of humanity.”
Rigali says Benedict’s decision to give up the job is a true act of humility from a man who always put the church and the will of God ahead of his own.
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput says he got to know the pope personally and worked with him during his pontificate as well as when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Chaput says he deeply admires and respects the departing pope’s intellect.
“His legacy will be a body of theological reflection that is unmatched in the history of the church, actually, I think that he will be a doctor of the church someday because his thought is profound and it’s not only deep but it’s wide. He’s able to speak intelligently on almost all the issues, if not all the issues in the life of the church.”
Chaput says he doesn’t expect Benedict to say anything to anyone or try to influence the election of the man who will replace him.
CBS-3’s Pat Ciarrocchi in Rome reports the Pope will be taken away by helicopter at 5pm (Central European Time) and process for selecting the next Pope could begin within the next day or two, but that process could take a while.
There is a meeting expected to take place Friday and then a formal general congregational meeting of the Cardinals at the College of Cardinals to follow. In that meeting, they are expected to decide when the conclave will begin and what format the conclave will follow.
The Cardinals are then expected to lay out what the most important issues are and hopefully a name will rise as the next person represent to Chair of Peter.