Pope Benedict XVI officially resigned yesterday, becoming the first pope to resign since 1415. Benedict addressed the cardinals for a final time, charging them with electing his replacement: “May the College of Cardinals work like an orchestra, where diversity — an expression of the universal church — always works toward a higher and harmonious agreement.”
The pope appeared at the window of the Vatican Palace to greet the throng of Catholic faithful gathered below in the square, chanting “Viva il Papa!” Benedict XVI told the crowd that “I am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this Earth.”
Benedict XVI, now Pope Emeritus, then departed the Vatican for the nearby Papal retreat of Castel Gandolfo. Soldiers of the Swiss Guard closed the gates after Benedict XVI entered his retirement.
According to the Washington Post, “Benedict’s decision to live at the Vatican in retirement, be called ’emeritus pope’ and ‘Your Holiness’ rather than revert back to ‘Joseph Ratzinger’ and wear the white cassock associated with the papacy has deepened concerns about the shadow he might cast over the next papacy.”
The Washington Post reports on Benedict XVI’s resignation. La Repubblica reports on the resignation in Italian and has numerous photo galleries of Benedict XVI’s final day as pope, as does Corriere della Sera. NPR reports on the resignation in the context of a broader identity crisis in the contemporary Catholic Church.
Benedict XVI’s decision to resign is being seen by some analysts as part of a long-planned and carefully orchestrated strategy.
Benedict XVI’s veneration of Pope Celestine V, who retired in 1294, seems to point to a crafted policy of Papal retirement. NPR reports on comparisons between Celestine V and Benedict XVI’s retirements.