Martedì, 16 Ottobre 2018
VATICAN CITY

Benedict spending last hours as pope

English
© ANSA

Vatican City, February 28 - Benedict XVI was
spending his last hours as pope at the Vatican on Thursday.
The 85-year-old German pontiff shocked the world this month
by saying he would step down from what is usually a life
position because he did not have the physical and mental
strength to continue to lead the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.
Benedict was set to have a meeting with cardinals in
Thursday morning.
At 17:00 Italian time he will fly from the Vatican by
helicopter to the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo
outside Rome.
He will stay at Castel Gandolfo for two months before
moving to a monastery inside the Vatican that is currently being
renovated.
His last public act as pope will be to greet the faithful
after arriving at Castel Gandolfo.
He will no longer be pope at 20:00 Italian time.
Benedict reiterated that his decision was the for good of
the Church as his last general audience on Wednesday.
He said the decision was made "in full awareness of its
seriousness, but also with a deep serenity of spirit... I asked
God to enlighten me to make the right decision for the good of
the Church".
Benedict also responded to those who criticised the move on
the grounds that you "don't climb down from the cross".
"I am not abandoning the cross" he said, adding he stayed
attached to the "crucified Lord" in a "new way".
The Vatican said Tuesday that Benedict XVI will be called
'pope emeritus' or 'Roman pontiff emeritus' after he steps down.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said this week
that a pre-conclave meeting of cardinals is likely to take place
on Monday March 4.
The meeting could reveal the date of the start of the
conclave to elect Benedict's successor.
On Monday Benedict issued a decree changing the rules of
the conclave to make it possible for it take place sooner than
the mandatory 15 days from a papacy's end, and so before
mid-March.

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