THE BLOG
02/27/2013 03:38 pm ET Updated Apr 29, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI Nears End Of Office As Cardinals Prepare For Last Meeting With Him

A day before his official retirement, Pope Benedict XVI said his final public farewell in an emotional address to more than 150,000 people in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday. Now, the last members of the College of Cardinals are arriving at the Vatican ahead of their final meeting with the pope on Thursday. With the sede vacante, the time between popes, about to start, the flurry of Vatican news has slowed down, but not stopped.

Some pope reads to catch up on:

-- We should know by around Monday about when the conclave to elect the new pope will begin. According to Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, "we don't have to wait 15 days but I think we need a full week" before starting the election process.

-- Murmurs on the new and soon-to-be-old popes continue. Sydney Cardinal George Pell, the only Australian who will vote in the conclave, somewhat criticized the pope in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald. Benedict is known as a scholar but also for overseeing a Vatican in internal disarray. Of the next pope, Pell said "he's got to know his theology but I think I prefer somebody who can lead the church and pull it together a bit." Pell also said the pope's resignation may lead to resignation campaigns by people who dislike the future pope.

-- Think the pope is done tweeting? Nope. He'll send one more message from @pontifex between stepping down (h/t @roccopalmo).

-- On the topic of Twitter, the hashtag #thankspontifex is trending.

-- The group of rumored papal candidates (and Cardinals who will be influential to the pick) is getting smaller. Catholic News Service tells us about 12 cardinals to watch.

-- Liberal group Faith in Public Life doesn't always have the nicest things to say about the Catholic church, but among all the chatter about Benedict's conservative views, program director John Gehring highlights the pope's "surprising progressive legacy."

-- Catholic blogger and priest Fr. John Zuhlsdorf notes that there's a small candlelight vigil being held under Benedict's window in St. Peter's Square.

-- Wondering how Cardinals (or at least one cardinal) travel? The Archdiocese of Boston released this photo of Cardinal Sean O'Malley on his way to meet the pope.

sean omalley