Father Tom Willis at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Augustine
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- For the first time in 600 years, a pope is resigning. The news has many questioning what will happen after February 28th.
"There is no pope reigning over the church, so everything at that moment freezes. There are norms in place for the College of the Cardinals and members of the college to guide the church during that time but their ability to do anything is very limited," said Father Tom Willis of Cathedral Basilica of Saint Augustine.
Day-to-day operations will continue, but there are some changes you might notice at your local church.
"After February 28th, Pope Benedict's name will no longer be mentioned as part of the Eucharistic prayer, the central prayer of the mass, and then once his successor is elected, then that name will be inserted into the Eucharistic prayer," said Willis.
Willis said members of this church will also notice another change. In 1976, the church was given the honorary title of Minor Basilica, giving it a direct connection to the Pope in office.
"As a Basilica, one of the traditions that we keep is to place the Coat of Arms of the present Pope in a prominent spot, and so for us that spot is over the blessed sacrament chapel," said Willis.
Once the new Pope is elected, a new Coat of Arms will go up. But for local Catholic churches, Bishop Felipe Estevez of the Diocese of Saint Augustine said what needs to be done locally is simple.
"I will call for a mass at the Cathedral, to pray for the Pope, to pray for the election of a new Pope, for the assistance of the Holy Spirit; and in the coming weeks there will be lots of prayers for that intention," Estevez said.
First Coast News