UK & World News
Pope's Reign Ends After Emotional Farewell
More than a billion Catholics are without a leader after Benedict XVI officially resigned, saying he will now simply be a "pilgrim".
At 8pm local time the doors of Castel Gandolfo closed and the famous Swiss Guard that ceremonially watch over the pope's summer residence marched away.
It signalled the end to Benedict's eight-year papacy and that the position of pope is now vacant.
He keeps his current name but from now on will be known as Pope Emeritus, or referred to as "his holiness", as he devotes his days to prayer and meditation.
Just hours earlier, in an emotional goodbye to the faithful, he declared himself a mere "pilgrim" in his final public appearance as Pope.
He arrived at the villa at the lakeside town to find a 7,000-strong crowd gathered in the main square waving yellow and white paper pennants in Vatican colours to greet him.
There were huge cheers as he briefly stepped out onto the main balcony, wearing a white robe, and spoke to the faithful with a final apostolic blessing.
"I am very happy to be here with you, surrounded by the beauty of the world. Thank you for your friendship and your affection," he said.
"You know that this day of mine has been so different from many others.
"I am no longer Pope from 8pm this evening. I am just a pilgrim on his last leg of his pilgrimage on this earth.
"I would like to work to work for the good of the Church and for humanity with my heart, faith, love, reflection and interior strength, and I feel supported with your kindness."
He went on to say: "From the bottom of my heart I bless you ... Thank you and goodnight."
Balloons spelling out his name were strung up across a shop window and banners thanking Benedict for his service were held aloft.
Earlier, he left the Vatican for the final time as leader of the Catholic Church, pledging "unconditional reverence and obedience" to whoever succeeds him.
He gave thanks to his closest aides who have been by his side during his papacy in an emotional parting ceremony, before stepping out from his apartments for the last time. Many of his staff had tears in their eyes.
As he bid the Vatican farewell as the Pope, he tweeted: "Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives."
Staff lined the route of his motorcade and applauded as the 85-year-old was driven to the Vatican helipad.
There he boarded a white Italian air force helicopter emblazoned with the Vatican flag and was flown in a spectacular journey over Rome to Castel Gandolfo - the papal summer residence on the outskirts of the city.
He is expected to spend the first two months of his retirement at the complex of villas boasting lush gardens, a farm and stunning views over Lake Albano in the volcanic crater below the town - before he retreats from public life for good.
The bells of St Peter's Basilica and churches rang out as the helicopter circled Vatican City against a backdrop of the Rome city skyline and golden setting sun.
Every minute of Benedict's departure was shown by Vatican television, including live pictures from the helicopter, as it flew over the Colosseum and other iconic landmarks.
It came 17 days after Benedict shocked the world when he announced he no longer felt mentally or physically able to continue as the 264th successor to St Peter. It broke centuries of precedent in which it became traditional for only death to end a pope's reign.
Earlier on Thursday, more than 100 cardinals said their personal farewells to Benedict at a gathering in the Clementine Hall in the Apostolic Palace.
In an unexpected speech, he urged them to stay united behind his successor.
He told them: "Among you there is the future pope, to whom I today declare my unconditional reverence and obedience."
Benedict will eventually move into the newly renovated Mater Ecclesiae Monastery of cloistered nuns inside the Vatican.
A total of 115 cardinals are expected to elect his successor in the secretive conclave process in the next few weeks, with the aim of having a new pope installed in office by Easter.
what do you think?
Thanks for saying sorry Benedict. It would have done SO much good. Well, that's patriachal religions for you.
As a great man once said " organised religion is the opiate of the people". Still used as a social control. So much blind faith.
Yes jr, but today "the people" take the drugs and the educated elite do religion!
Oh you reckon that, do you mark? Haha! Got some front I give you that! ;-)
Benedict has Left The Building.
Yeah, and take the rest of the clowns with you.
Julie. He was lucky to get the job. It was supposed to be a Spanish cardinal named "Si Cola" but it was thought Pope Si Cola wasn't reverent enough
Hahaaaa, davenlesley you have made my night!! :-).....you're going to be upsetting saint Andrea, lol! ;-)
No one makes more jokes about theChurch and the Pope than Catholics, I can assure you!
At least they CAN laugh at themselves Louisa, which is more than can be said for a certain other religion!!!!
haahaa, good one dave.
Loved that Pope Si Cola one Dave, almost as bad as my Ex. (eggs) Benedict!!!!!!
Och Michael you're being awfully unfair to Protestants there, are you not?
Shame really, I quite like it when they snuff it. Watching all the wailing and the smoke and stuff, very amusing.
The smoke comes when a new pope is elected - as will happen we hope before Easter. Enjoying seeing people grieving is a rather odd pleasure though?? Are you feeling Ok otherwise?!
Otherwise than what exacty ? People throughout history have gained pleasure from watching child abusers dying at the gallows etc, not a lot of difference really.
What stupid hateful opinions you hold tb
"I will be close to you in prayer, especially in the next few days, so that you are fully accepting of the action of the Holy Spirit in the election of the new pope. what ?....does this actually make any sense to anyone ?
yes it does actually.
Hahaaaa! Thought good ol, Andrea would pop by! ;-)
d and d Phillips
how can you not.understand.that
...because its twaddle, maybe Andrea? Are you catholic, perchance? Hmm?
It makes perfect sense to millions all over the world
Julie - to me an awful lot of pchychology is incomprehensible - because i've never really studied it. An awful lot of chenistry adn sub0milecular phyics is also beyobnd me at present. That's because I don't know enough about it - not because it's twaddle. The fact that you celarly know nothing about Christian spirituality or the workings of the conclave doesn't mean it's twaddle - just that you know nothing about it. That's your choice, but it doesn't really justify your rubbishing of people who know do..
Mark, I take on board some of your points, fair enough, but the catholic religion to me represents, abuse, corruption, dodgy priests, you only have to look at the history of the catholic faith to know this, so no, I don't profess to "know" about this religion, because its hypocritical, frankly scary and unforgiving, I will always stand by this belief,
Lots of words but no explanation. At least I have an answer.
But tb, she has a heart and your's is never much in evidence
Bye... Wish you wouldn't come back! As a fellow Human being I wish you luck! As a pontiff, Tim Minchin sums if up in "pope song" NSFW.
is this story news worthy?
Yes- first pope to resign in 600+ years. Others have stayed in office long beyond physical capability. This guy has used common sense.
d and d Phillips
Only to about 1.2 billion people and other interested onlookers. So, possibly................
Steve V. I think the guy showed great courage in breaking with tradition when he realised he could no longer do the job. Better that than descend into the mess the last pope was in his final years
he has been brave to resign and i hope his remaining years are happy and peaceful.
It is of you're catholic I would have thought
No....not especialy, but there you go!
Yes, to many many thousands of people all over the world
I too admire him for resigning. It has rarely been done and shows humility and great common sense. Big tough atheist that i am i was crying when i watched the news tonight - i found it very emotional
It is of huge historical significance - it's vitally important to over 1 billion Roman Catholics and millions of other Christians and may well have huge imlpications for international relations on various levels. So - probably it's newsworthy??
thank goodness intelligent comments.have overshadowed the ones that are.not.
Now lets find out why he really resigned, the truth will come out sooner or later
The only 2 deserving candidates that should be in the running for pope should be either David Beckham or Jose Mourinho, because that's about as close to god as you can get
i didnt know jesus could fly helicopters
"Just when I though I was out, they pull me back in" ! I'll never get away!
One of the most corrupt religions in the world. Where's the humilty in living in so much splendour whilst there is so much poverty and suffering?
EXACTLY!!!!! Well said, Jane!
Jane. They are all the same. Try the far east and see all the golden buddhas while many of the people live in abject poverty
I agree with you there as well, davenlesley, all that wealth and power, THAT'S religion, not for me!
Just had the same discussion with my sons Jane. I can't argue against the non humility of such vast wealth and power. Like many lapsed Catholics however, it has a strong emotional pull on me. I try to resist - they really do get you for life!
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Will he now be known as Ex. (eggs) Benedict!!!!!!
Aww good one, gillie! :-)