Domenica, 21 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Pope Benedict's time as pontiff comes to an end

English
© ANSA

By Kate Carlisle
Rome, February 28 - Pope Benedict XVI's time as
pontiff has ended.
The period of 'sede vacante' or 'empty seat' has begun.
Farewell applause and tears from Vatican staff sent
Benedict on his way into retirement Thursday.
Employees of the Vatican gathered in the courtyard of San
Damaso and loudly applauded Benedict as he boarded the
helicopter to begin his retirement at the papal summer retreat
in Castel Gandolfo outside of Rome.
The pope, 85, officially began his retirement at 20:00
local time.
Tears were spotted on many faces of his staff, including
that of photogenic Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, who has been the
pope's personal secretary.
Gaenswein recently appeared on the cover of the Italian
version of Vanity Fair magazine as the first personal secretary
and head of the Papal Household, to become an archbishop.
Over 10,000 well-wishers waited for Benedict XVI on
Wednesday on the main square of Castel Gandolfo outside Rome,
where he greeted the faithful for the last time after leaving
the Vatican by helicopter at 17:05.
The crowd exploded into applause several times during the
resigning pope's brief greeting.
"Thank you, dear friends, I am happy to be with you,
surrounded by the beauty of creation," Benedict said.
Benedict, the first pope to stand down since Gregory XII in
1415, will spend two months at Castel Gandolfo before moving
into a monastery inside the Vatican, as "pope emeritus".
"I thank you for your friendship and affection," he said.
The pontiff was received by the bishop of the town of
Albano, Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, and the mayor, who announced
plans to make him an honorary citizen of the community.
"You know that this day is different for me than previous
ones. I'm no longer pope, only a pilgrim. Until 8pm I am, but
then I will no longer be," he said.
Benedict shocked the world when he announced on
February 11 that he would resign because he said he lacked the
mental and physical strength to continue leading the world's 1.2
billion Catholics.
"I am simply a pilgrim who is starting the last leg of his
pilgrimage on earth, but I would like, with all of my heart, all
of my love, my prayers, thoughts and interior strength to
continue to work for the good of the Church and mankind," he
said.
On Wednesday, at his last general audience, Benedict
reiterated that his decision was the for good of the Church.
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.
Befitting his new position, Benedict will continue to wear
a simple white papal cassock, minus the mozzetta - the short
cape that covers his shoulders.
As a retiree, Benedict will be putting aside his
distinctive red shoes he has worn during his papacy that were
named "accessory of the year" by Esquire magazine and replace
them with brown shoes given to him by Mexican cobblers during a
visit last year.
Meanwhile, 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.
The pope's last words before leaving the window on the
square of Castel Gandolfo were "thank you and good night".
He then gave the crowd his last blessing before his
abdication that became official at when the bells tolled at 8pm.

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