Retired Pope Benedict leaves Vatican

Published Thursday, 28 February 2013
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Pope Benedict XVI has left the Vatican for the final time as leader of the Catholic Church, becoming the first pontiff to step down from the post in nearly 600 years.

Retired Pope Benedict leaves Vatican
Pope Benedict XVI pictured before leaving the Vatican. (© Getty)

The 85-year-old met cardinals before being formally bid farewell by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and other members of the Vatican's Secretariat of State in Rome.

He has been flown by helicopter to Castel Gandolfo, the pope's summer retreat, with the empty office of pope - or Sede Vacante - formally declared at 7pm local time.

As he bid the Vatican farewell a message of thanks to his followers appeared on his Twitter account.

It is expected he will spend the first two months of his retirement at the retreat, before he moves away from public life.

It was revealed that he is "grateful" for the prayers of British Catholics following the announcement that he is to step down.

A message from the Vatican addressed to the Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, said the pope continued to give thanks for the "many graces" he received during his four-day visit to Scotland and England in September 2010.

It added that Pope Benedict would pray for the UK faithful.

"His Holiness promises to pray for all of you and for the people entrusted to your pastoral care, and he willingly imparts his apostolic blessing," the letter stated.

The outgoing pope held his last general audience in St Peter's Square, Rome, on Wednesday in front of a huge crowd.

(Pope Benedict) recalls with gratitude the welcome extended to him on his historic visit to your country in September 2010, and he continues to give thanks to God for the many graces received during those four days

Vatican spokesperson

He will now be known as 'Pontiff emeritus' or 'Pope emeritus', and will keep the name of 'His Holiness, Benedict XVI'.

He will dress in a white cassock without the mozzetta (elbow-length cape) and will no longer wear the red papal shoes.

His 'Fisherman's Ring', the special signet ring which is used for impressions to on official documents, will be destroyed with the lead seal of the pontificate.

Pope Benedict was elected in 2005 following the death of John Paul II and led the world's 1.2bn Catholics for almost eight years.

His decision to step aside shocked the world when it was announced earlier this month.

It is believed a successor will be chosen within the next few weeks, after the pope changed the rules of the conclave to allow cardinals to bring forward the start date of the discussions if all of them arrive in Rome before the usual 15-day transition between pontificates.

An estimated 115 cardinals are expected to play a role in electing the new pope, during sessions which will take place in secrecy at the Vatican's Sistine Chapel.

The pope is due to return to Rome in April to live in a convent in the Vatican.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
maggie in north west wrote (695 days ago):
joseph thomas. First should I say we do not worship the Royal family they are not GOD. second the queen does not claim to be the vicar of Christ. She does not instruct us on birth control. The rhythm method. Who can get a band to play in the bedroom at night. all the good RC church does in the world comes from the faithful in the pews and money they give to the church. sure the vatican was built with money taken from the people thinking they could pay for sins forgiven and a get into heaven.
maggie in north west wrote (696 days ago):
Therese Antim. Go to the Bible and tell me when St Peter was even in Rome. Paul brought the message of salvation to the people in Rome..If Peter left the Holy land it was not recorded in the Bible.. Becky and the rest.The Queen does not claim to be Christ's messenger on earth.The RC church claims to be the true church. and I said they all but fell on their knees before him.I did not say they worship him.
lucylou in belfast wrote (696 days ago):
VEEin belfast==I think you have taken Maggie's comment regarding the poor out of context.I read it as her meaning the general injustice in the world which has so many living in poverty. I alwasys thought what Jesus meant regarding the poor was that we WOULD always have the poor with us knowing that mankind would always be too selfish to address the injustice on any scale to make a real difference for everyone.[must apologise for mispelling always earlier in my post] don't want you feeling it necessary to comment on my spelling as well as Maggies.Rude as that was.===PS==Let me know when your next bible study starts???? Maybe you could invite Maggie and myself and teach us a thing or two!!!
Joseph Thomas in Down wrote (700 days ago):
Very Ironic comment from Maggie given the worship of the Royal family, figurehead of the Anglican church resides in many Palaces. A case of people in glass houses here Maggie!
Vee in Belfast wrote (700 days ago):
Maggie in North West Please try and learn to spell, or buy yourself a dictionary. The people in Rome do not bow before the Pope as a man but only as Christ's Vicar on earth. Tell me the head of any Church who is not treated with some respect. Also Jesus did not die for the poor but for all mankind. Did He not say: there will be poor always.
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