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Pope Benedict says he will 'remain hidden to the world'

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
February 15th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Pope Benedict XVI offered personal recollections of the Second Vatican Council, the gathering of bishops 50 years ago that set the Roman Catholic Church's course for the future. Surprising the world with the news of his resignation - the first pope to do so in nearly 600 years, Benedict said he would not hold a public role once his resignation becomes official at the end of this month. 

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Though I am now retiring to a life of prayer, I will always be close to all of you, and I am sure all of you will be close to me, even though I remain hidden to the world," Benedict told an assembly of hundreds of priests.

"It moved me to see the pope smile," said Don Mario Filippa, a priest in Rome. "He has found peace within himself."

Many of those in attendance said they had witnessed a powerful moment in church history. Benedict had struck many in the church as being somewhat remote. 

"It was a part of history," Father Martin Astudillo, an Argentine priest studying in Rome said. "This is a man of God who at the end of his public role transmits his vision of the church and relationship with the church. We saw in a few words a real synthesis of his vision of the church and what he expects from whomever takes over."

Benedict recalled the "incredible" expectations of the bishops going into the Second Vatican Council.

"We were full of hope, enthusiasm and also of good will," he said.

Benedict said that much of that council got lost in the news media's interpretation of what transpired, Benedict said, which led to the "calamities" that have marred recent church history.

The news outlets reduced the proceedings "into a political power struggle between different currents of the church," Benedict said. Each chose a side that suited its individual vision of the world.

Misinterpretations of that council, he said, led to "so many calamities, so many problems, seminaries closed, convents that closed, the liturgy trivialized," the pope said.

Benedict spoke of how the Second Vatican Council had explored ideas of the relationship between the Catholic and Jewish faiths, a thorny issue during his tenure.

"Even if it's clear that the church isn't responsible for the Shoah, it's for the most part Christians who did this crime," the German-born Benedict said of the Holocaust, adding that this called for a need to "deepen and renovate the Christian conscience," even if it is true that "real believers only fought against" Nazi barbarism.

Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi confirmed a report in the Turin newspaper La Stampa that the pope had accidentally hit his head during a trip to Mexico last March.

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