The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has left the Vatican to spend his last hour as pope at his retreat in Castel Gandolfo. Within the next hour, he will become the first pope in six centuries to retire. He will spend the next several weeks at his splendid retreat house, before permanently entering a Vatican monastery.
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The pope-emeritus, as Benedict will be called, will remain at Castel Gandolfo as the cardinals meet to choose his successor.
The historic nature of the events unfolding in the Catholic Church becomes even more dramatic on a daily basis. On Monday morning, February 25, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI issued, on his own authority (Motu proprio), an apostolic letter modifying the time period required for the convening of a conclave of Cardinal Electors to choose his successor
“so I can continue to serve the Church with the same dedication and the same love with which I have done thus far, but in a way that is better suited to my age and my strength”
“We view the Pope’s action here in a positive light, as an expression of his concern and love for the Church. He wants the Church to have a Pope who can fulfill his role with the strength and vigor that the office requires.”
“thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects.”
The 85-year-old pontiff made the announcement Monday, saying he no longer had the strength to carry out his papal duties.
“Social forums need to be used wisely and well, which means fostering balanced and respectful dialogue and debate”
Medjugorje is likely on the way to official shrine status, the suggestion of which is expected to be among the current Vatican Commission’s recommendations to Pope Benedict XVI.