Domenica, 21 Ottobre 2018
VATICAN CITY

Benedict vows to obey successor on last day as pope

English
© ANSA

(By Paul Virgo)
Vatican City, February 28 - Pope Benedict XVI
pledged obedience to his successor at a meeting of cardinals on
his last day as pontiff on Thursday.
"Among you is the future pope, to whom I promise my
unconditional reverence and obedience," Benedict said.
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.
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, when the
office of pope will become "sede vacante" (vacant seat).
The outgoing pope told cardinals on Thursday that the
support and advice he had received from them during the seven
years, 10 months and nine days he has spent as pope were of
"great help".
"It has been a joy for me too to walk with you over these
years," Benedict said.
He added that the college of cardinals "should be like an
orchestra in which diversity can lead to synchronous harmony".
Benedict then greeted one by one all of the cardinals, many
of whom were visibly moved.
Among the cardinals he spoke to were former Los Angeles
archbishop Cardinal Roger Mahony, who is set to take part in the
conclave to elect the next pope despite controversy over his
alleged role in protecting priests who sexually abused children
in the United States.
Benedict reiterated on Wednesday that his decision was the
for good of the Church at his last general audience.
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 Archbishop of Sydney George Pell, however, criticised
the move, saying it sets a dangerous precedent.
"People who, for example, might disagree with a future pope
will mount a campaign to get him to resign," Pell, who is one of
the cardinals who will elect Benedict's successor at the
upcoming conclave, told ABC radio.
"He was well aware that this is a break with tradition
(and) slightly destabilizing.
"But he felt that because of his weakness and sickness,
which was only too evident today, that he didn't have the
strength to lead the church in these demanding times.
"He's as aware, as I am, of the slight change to the
tradition" Pell described the outgoing pope as a "brilliant
teacher", but added that "government wasn't his strongest
point".
The Australian cardinal cited the example of the VatiLeaks
scandal, which saw Benedict's butler convicted of leaking
confidential Church documents to the media, before he was
pardoned late last year.
"He has to know his theology, but I think I prefer somebody
who can lead the church and pull it together a bit," Pell said
of the next pope.
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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