Vatican City - The Catholic Church has awoken with no
leader following Pope Benedict XVI's dramatic resignation, in which he pledged
obedience to his successor as a "simple pilgrim" starting the final
pilgrimage of his life.
Now begins a period known as the "sede vacante"
or "vacant see”, the transition between the end of one papacy and the
election of a new pope.
During these few days - no more than 20 - a few key
players take charge running the Holy See, guiding the College of Cardinals in
their deliberations and organising the conclave to elect Benedict's successor.
In one of his first official acts as dean, Cardinal
Angelo Sodano on Friday officially summons the voting-age cardinals to Rome to
participate in the conclave, a formality given that most are already here.