New facts…

  • The Vatican is acknowledging for the first time that Pope Benedict XVI has had a pacemaker for years and that its battery was replaced a few months ago in secret.
  • His brother  said that “I don’t think he will write anymore,” Ratzinger said.

Unanswered questions…

Respected Vatican commentator John Allen  offers a list of all the times the spokesperson, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, replied to questions with some version of “I don’t have precise information on that.” They included:

  • Exactly when will Benedict XVI depart for Castel Gandolfo after the formal end of his papacy at 8 p.m. Rome time Feb. 28, and when exactly will he return to move into a former monastery on Vatican grounds?
  • What will happen to symbols of Benedict’s papacy, such as papal ring and seal?
  • Will Benedict take part in the public ceremonies of his successor, such as the installation Mass of the new pope?
  • What will Benedict’s title be after he steps down?
  • Who exactly will move in with Benedict to run his household and act as aides?

Lombardi was charmingly frank in conceding that this is a “new situation” and it’s not always “immediately obvious” how things will play out.

Informed insights…

In the same article Allen also offers his usually well-informed insights on the following questions

  • Was this truly a surprise?
  • When will the conclave begin?
  • What’s Benedict XVI going to do in the meantime?
  • What will Benedict’s role being in the election of his successor?
  • What will Benedict do after the new pope is on the job?
  • What are the implications of all this for future popes?