Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Britain's top Catholic, said in a statement Monday that he won't attend the conclave after the pope accepted his resignation prior to his 75th birthday, when cardinals must submit their resignations, which may or may not be accepted by the pope. O'Brien, who cited age and health when he handed in his resignation in November, said he didn't want to be a media distraction during the conclave. He denies any wrongdoing.
Besides O'Brien, a cardinal from Indonesia may also miss the conclave due to health reasons, putting the number of papal electors at 115. The pope will address them on Thursday before flying by helicopter to his summer residence in the hills south of Rome. He'll return to live in a convent within the Vatican walls two months later.
After retirement, Benedict's official title will be "Pope Emeritus" or "Roman Pontiff Emeritus," Lombardi said at a briefing Tuesday. While he'll continue to wear a white cassock, Benedict will drop his trademark red shoes in favor of a pair of brown ones made for him in Mexico, the spokesman said.
The dossier into the leaks probe will remain secret, though the three cardinals who compiled it may inform their counterparts on its contents before the conclave to help them "evaluate the situation and choose a new pope," Lombardi said at a news briefing Monday.
"The bolder move would have been to give the report to the cardinals," John Allen Jr., author of "Cardinal Ratzinger: The Vatican's Enforcer of the Faith," a book about the pope, said by phone. "If he wanted the dossier to be pivotal in the election of the next pope, that's what he would have done."