Lunedì, 22 Ottobre 2018
VATICAN CITY

Benedict ducks from media glare before big goodbye

English
© ANSA

Vatican City, February 18 - Pope Benedict XVI has
said he will be "hidden from the world" when he steps down as
pontiff and will spend his life "retired in prayer".
But in a sense the 85-year-old German pope is already
having a taste of what the future holds for him after entering a
Lenten spiritual retreat that will last until five days before
he leaves the papacy.
The retreat at the Vatican's Apostolic Palace was already
scheduled to take place before Benedict shocked the world a week
ago by announcing that he did not have the mental and physical
strength to continue in a role that is traditionally for life.
The last time a pope quit voluntarily was over 700 years
ago, in 1294, when Celestine V vacated the post after only five
months in it.
After explaining at a series of meetings last week that he
made the decision for the good of the Church, Benedict saw no
reason to change his plan.
The retreat started Sunday evening and will last until
Saturday, February 23, when Benedict is scheduled to meet
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.
The pope, who is set to step down at 20:00 local time on
February 28, will hold no audiences during it.
So this week's general audience, on Wednesday, has been
called off.
He is on the retreat with members of the Roman Curia, the
administrative apparatus of the Holy See and the Church's
central governing body, and of the Pontifical household.
The retreat is being held under the direction of the
president of the pontifical council for culture, Cardinal
Gianfranco Ravasi.
Ravasi, who is seen as one of the possible candidates to be
the next pope, has prepared a series of prayer meditation
"exercises" for the retreat.
"The Holy Father gave me the job of preaching the spiritual
exercises in the Vatican," Ravasi said.
"I think that doing the exercises at this time is a way for
us to liberate the soul of the soil of things, including the mud
of sin, the sands of banality, the nettles of chatter that
occupy our ears uninterrupted, especially at the moment".
Vatican radio said it will put podcasts of the meditations
on its website so the faithful can download them and listen to
them on computers, smartphones and MP3 players.
In the first on Sunday, Ravasi used a biblical image to
portray Benedict's role in the Church after he steps down,
Vatican radio reported.
Ravasi compared the outgoing pope to Moses praying for the
Israelites on a mountain while they fought in battle against the
Amalekites in the valley below.
"This image represents the main function - yours - for the
Church, that of intercession," Ravasi said.
"We will stay in the valley, the valley where there are the
Amalekites, where there is dust, where there is fear, terror,
nightmares, but also hope, where you have been in these last
eight years with us," he said.
"From now on though, we will know that your intercession is
there on the mountain for us".
The outgoing pope will celebrate his final Sunday Angelus
prayer service on February 24 and hold his last general audience
before what is expected to be a massive crowd on February 27.
After stepping down, Benedict will stay at the papal summer
residence at Castel Gandolfo outside Rome before moving to a
monastery inside the Vatican that is currently being renovated.
The papal conclave of cardinals to elect a new pope is
expected to start by the middle of March.

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