Respect for pope's 'historic' resignation
With the shock resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the first Pope to resign since Gregory XII over 600 years ago, two leading Catholics in mid-Somerset share their opinions.
On an appearance on BBC's Newsnight, Lavinia Byrne, former nun from Wells and one time Wells Journal reporter, who frequently featured on Thought for the Day on Radio 4, said: "He was always going to be a transitional Pope – the cardinals who elected him knew he was an old man and envisaged him having a short period of office.
"It is intriguing to me that he stood down on the Feast of our Lady of Lourdes, which is a feast of healing and health.
"It would be ungracious of me to say I am glad he has stepped down. Popes come and go.
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"I would envisage the next Pope being someone who will address critical questions on how the church fits into the world."
Agreeing with the statement on Pope Benedict being a transitional Pope, Father James, of St Mary's in Glastonbury thinks that his decision to resign was a brave and well thought out one, and that Pope Benedict had left his own great legacy: "We know he was going to be transitional but he has made his mark and his legacy is much more than that of his resignation. You can't really compare Popes.
"He is not like Pope John Paul II, he is much more an academic, whereas Pope John Paul was more pastoral, but both brought with them different qualities.
"We all have our own individual gifts and talents and the next Pope will take the church in the direction he believes.
"This resignation is making history and it's great to be a part of it. I think everybody seems fine with it, and the bishop has taken prayers from the parishioners and it is a decision for the good of the church. The announcement took everybody by surprise and shock because nobody knew it was coming. We respect his decision."
A new Pope is chosen following a number of steps.
The cardinals come to Rome for the conclave that will elect the new Pope.
The cardinals pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit during a Mass.
The cardinals, sealed in the Sistine Chapel, vote every morning and afternoon.
A two-thirds majority plus one is required for election for the first 30 ballots. After that, a simple majority is required.
After each vote, they burn the ballots and add special chemicals to make the smoke white or black.
Black smoke means no new Pope yet.
White smoke announces the election of a new Pope.
The cardinals may elect any fully initiated Catholic male over the age of 18.
They ask the one elected if he accepts. If he is already a bishop, then the moment he accepts, he is Pope. If he is not yet a bishop (ie, if he is only a priest, deacon, or layman) he will be ordained bishop and at that moment be pope.
The Pope chooses his "Papal" name.
Finally the new Pope is announced to the world.