It is Official: The Seat of the Pope is Vacant

Exactly 8 PM of  February 28, as reported by CNN, “torchlit crowds stood before the gates of the Castel Gandolfo residence, waiting to see the Swiss Guards, the soldiers who traditionally protect the pope, salute and close the doors on the stroke of 8 p.m.

The guards’ departure from the papal summer home brings Benedict’s papacy to a formal end. The protection of Benedict there falls now to Vatican police.”
It is official: the seat of the Pope is vacant.
The official farewell speech of the Holy Father goes as follows:

“Dear friends,

“I am happy to be with you, surrounded by the beauty of creation and your well wishes, which do me such good. Thank you for your friendship and your affection.

“You know that this day is different for me than the preceding ones. I am no longer the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, or I will be until 8 this evening and then nolonger. I am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this earth. But I would still [applause] … thank you … I would still – with my heart, with my love, with my prayers, with my reflection, and with all my inner strength – like to work for the common good and the good of the church and of humanity. I feel very supported by your kindness. Let us go forward with the Lord for the good of the church and the world. Thank you. I now wholeheartedly impart my blessing.

“Blessed be God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Good night! Thank you all!”

With that, he is gone and the official papal seal is removed from the Vatican at around 5:40 p.m.
Earlier on, he also delivered his last Twitter message @Pontifex:  “Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the center of your lives.”
The world now turns to Cardinals who will meet starting March 1 to agree on the date of the Conclave to elect a new pope. (Fr. Lito Jopson / Diocese of Pasig Media Office DPOC 20130301)
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