Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Pope Benedict XVI To Become 'Pope Emeritus' After Stepping Down


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Audie Cornish. Today in St. Peter's Square - the Vatican's wide, cobblestone plaza - an emotional goodbye. Pope Benedict XVI bid farewell to throngs of people one day before he will formally resign. As NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports, the pope appeared more invigorated and serene than he has in months.

SYLVIA POGGIOLI, BYLINE: An organ played while Benedict took a long victory lap across the square inside his pope-mobile. He stopped to bless and kiss half a dozen children while pilgrims cheered and waved banners with the words "thank you." The crowd was estimated at 150,000. For a pope who over the last eight years never appeared much at ease in public, Benedict was clearly enjoying himself.

In his speech, Benedict abandoned his usual theological lesson for a more personal message. He repeated that his decision to resign is for the good of the church, and was dictated by his ailing health and declining strength. And he did not hide the travails of his papacy.

POPE BENEDICT XVI: (Speaking foreign language)

POGGIOLI: Benedict recalled the moments of joy and light. But he also spoke of times of difficulty, moments of turbulent seas and rough winds when, he said, it seemed like the Lord was sleeping. But he said he never felt alone and that God always guided him.


POGGIOLI: Pope Benedict took pains to point out that his resignation in no way diminishes the sacredness of the papacy.

POPE BENEDICT: (Speaking foreign language)

POGGIOLI: Forever pope; there is no return to private life, Benedict said. No trips, meetings, receptions or lectures. I will not abandon the cross but remain, in a new manner, close to Christ.

POPE BENEDICT: (Speaking foreign language)


POGGIOLI: After days of intense consultations, spokesman Father Tom Rosica said the Vatican has finally come up with Benedict's new title.

THE REV. TOM ROSICA: His Holiness Benedict XVI - that name will remain with him; emeritus pope or pope emeritus, or the Roman pontiff emeritus.

POGGIOLI: The spokesman also announced that the retired pope will continue to wear white vestments, but his clothes will be more simple.

ROSICA: A very important point are the shoes. They will no longer be the red shoes that you've seen him wear, but he has chosen to keep brown shoes that were given to him on his recent trip to Mexico.

POGGIOLI: In accordance with the Vatican apostolic constitution, Benedict's papal ring and seal will be broken; the time and place to be decided by the College of Cardinals. Tomorrow at about 5 p.m. Rome time, after greeting cardinals in the Vatican, Benedict will take his leave of the Holy See, taking off by helicopter for the papal summer residence south of Rome.

At 8 p.m., the resignation becomes official, and the Catholic Church will formally enter a period of uncertain transition that will culminate with the paradoxical situation of two popes living inside the Vatican. Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News, Rome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.