Implications of Pope Benedict XVI's resignation discussed at Notre Dame

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Summer 20-2-2013

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame Australia

Publication Place



The sudden and unexpected resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and an explanation of the Vatican's voting processes formed the basis of a recent discussion led by Professor Peter Black from The University of Notre Dame Australia's Fremantle School of Philosophy and Theology.

'What Happens When a Pope Resigns' was the topic presented by Professor Black to staff and community members as part of a new University initiative, Fridays at Fairweathers.

As the first pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415, Professor Black said that Pope Benedict XVI would still remain an important part of the Catholic religious community.

Professor Black explained that during the "historical and ceremonious" voting process, the 117 cardinals, who would ultimately elect the new figurehead of the Catholic Church, were sworn to take oaths of secrecy and they were barred from using telephones or watching television.

"Pope Benedict changed the rules to ensure a two-thirds majority for the election of a new pope with the voting process expected to begin between the 15th and 20th days of the Chair of St Peter being vacant," said Professor Black.

Chris Cully, Foundation Principal of Hammond Park Catholic Primary School, joined UNDA staff for the discussion. Mr Cully said in listening to Professor Black, it was re-assuring to hear of the pastoral care for Pope Benedict and the Church at large resulting from his retirement.

"It was clear too that Pope Benedict placed the needs of the Church in the modern world as an absolute priority."

In her memo to staff, Vice Chancellor Professor Celia Hammond said during his time as Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI has led the Church with a rare combination of faith, charity and intellect.

"We at Notre Dame will always hold precious the memory of his visit to our Sydney Campus to open the Benedict XVI Library," Professor Hammond said.

"At this time we should all pray for our Pontiff and give thanks for the example he set us of faith and reason in word and deed. Let us also pray for the Universal Church and for the Cardinals as we await the beginning of this latest chapter in our two thousand year old story."

Fridays at Fairweathers is a series of events which will be held on the Fremantle Campus throughout 2013. Staff will have the opportunity to engage in a topic related to the Catholic faith and values that define Notre Dame's mission as a Catholic university and to the Catholic intellectual tradition from which we come.

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