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Pope Benedict XVI pledges to respect and obey his successor

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
February 28th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Pope Benedict XVI has pledged to respect and obey his successor as he steps down as the leader of the Catholic Church. Benedict, addressing, black-robed cardinals on his final day as pope said that he would pray for them to be guided by the Holy Spirit in their selection of a new pontiff.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Among you is . the future pope, to whom I promise my unconditional reverence and obedience," the pontiff said. Benedict tried to assuage concerns that having both a reigning and retired pope in the Vatican might spark confusion or division within the church.

Prelates filed before Benedict one by one to shake or kiss his hands and exchange a few words; many removed their red skullcaps out of respect.

Benedict told the cardinals that it had been "a joy to walk with you in these years in the light of the presence of the resurrected Lord." He said that his eight years on the throne of St. Peter had its moments of "radiant light" as well as "clouds that have gathered in the sky," but through it all, "we have tried to serve Christ and his church with deep and total love," the pope said.

His valedictory remarks, delivered from his seat at the front of the hall comments were an echo of the emotional and unusually personal address he gave to tens of thousands of pilgrims in his final public audience.

The pope will be flown by helicopter to the papal summer retreat south of Rome, where he is likely to remain while the cardinals choose his successor in a conclave in the coming weeks.

Benedict expressed his hope that the cardinals would "grow further in deep unity" so that they would become "like an orchestra" full of diversity but in harmony. Critics of the Vatican say that the institution is rife with factionalism and jealousies.

"I will continue be close to you in prayer, especially in the coming days, that you may be illuminated by the Holy Spirit," the pontiff said.

Benedict's resignation comes into effect today and he ceases to be pope. But he will continue to be addressed as "his holiness," with the title "pope emeritus."

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