Not having had to deal with a papal retirement plan for a several hundred years has many wondering what the Vatican would do once Pope Benedict XVI steps down at the end of the month.  But il Papa won’t have to worry too much about making ends meet.

Vatican watchers have been sleuthing, since details aren’t exactly flowing out of the Vatican.  However, Benedict’s official title is likely to be “Bishop Emeritus of Rome”.  That alone entitles him to a monthly stipend of €2500, which is more than $A3200. 

He’s not going to have to pay for his own meals, because that’s coming out of the Vatican budget.  Four volunteers will prepare them.  Housing is taken care of:  He’ll live rent free in an old convent on Vatican grounds that is being converted specifically for his use.

The Vatican isn’t expected to pick up the tab for international travel expenses; however, Benedict cited his physical inability to deal with the rigors of jetting around the world to do Pope stuff as a prime reason for resigning.

Meanwhile, the Vatican is still split over speeding up the process of picking a new Pope.  Some want to get this thing locked down before Holy Week and Easter.  Some just want to follow the rules as written, meaning no conclave until 15 to 20 days after Benedict retires. 

One of those for the latter is influential New York City Cardinal Timothy Dolan.  Although few expect the next Pope to come from the world’s only Super Power, his name has been floated by some Vatican gossips.  To that, Dolan replied, “Whoever is saying that must have been smoking marijuana.”