Pope Resigns: Pope Benedict XVI leaving papacy

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates the Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican ((AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia))
February 12, 2013 7:18:49 AM PST
Pope Benedict XVI is planning to stay out of the public eye following his retirement at the end of the month and will probably not even write any more, his brother said Tuesday after talking with the pontiff.

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Speaking to reporters in his home in the southern German city of Regensburg, 89-year-old Georg Ratzinger said his brother also has no plans to move back to his German homeland but would instead stay in the Vatican.

"You don't transplant an old tree," Ratzinger said.

The two are very close, however, and Ratzinger said he's already planning to visit his brother later in the year.

The 85-year-old Benedict shocked the world Monday by announcing that he planned to step down from the papacy at the end of the month.

For Ratzinger, however, the decision was no surprise.

"He has been thinking about it for several months," he said. "He concluded that his powers are falling victim to age."

He talked with the pope by telephone on Monday evening after the announcement and said his brother was now hoping to lead a quiet life in the Vatican. A prolific writer during his papacy, Ratzinger said that was also something his brother would now likely end.

"I don't think he will write anymore," Ratzinger said.

Rudolf Voderholzer, the bishop of Regensburg who is also in charge of the pope's theological institute that publishes his work, said even if Benedict does write, not more would be published during his lifetime.

"Anything he published could be conceived as interference in the work of the next pope," he said.

As for his successor, Ratzinger said only that his brother "feels that a younger person is needed to deal with the problems of the times."

Vatican releases details on pacemaker surgery, last ceremony

Father Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said in a Tuesday briefing that the Pope will keep all his appointments until February 28. His last weekly general audience will be held on February 27.

"We are thinking of doing it in St. Peter's Square as lots of people will come for it," Lombardi said.

No other large events are scheduled after the Ash Wednesday Mass, which many cardinals will attend.

The pope's expected Encyclical on Faith, "will not be published by the end of the month, it was not ready to be made public," Lombardi said. "Maybe we will get it in another form, but not sure how we were expecting it."

The convent within the Vatican where Pope Benedict will eventually go to live is being redecorated and rebuilt to make it more suitable for a residence.

Father Lombardi confirmed that the Pope recently replaced the battery on his pacemaker, which he has had a long time. But he said it was not a "serious operation, just normal routine" and "had nothing to do with his decision."

Philippine Catholic leaders praise pope's move

Church leaders in the Philippines, Asia's largest Roman Catholic nation, say they are surprised at Pope Benedict XVI's decision to resign but praised his honesty and prayed for an orderly succession.

Fr. Francis Lucas of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines said Tuesday that bishops and priests received news of the pope's decision with "shock and dismay" but praised his humility for acknowledging he no longer is physically able to handle the papacy.

Lucas says there have been calls for the next pope to be chosen among cardinals from Asia, Africa or Latin America and asked Filipinos to pray "for the Holy Spirit to continue to guide ... our cardinals" in picking a pontiff.

Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle also sought prayers for a smooth succession.

Retiring pope faces uncharted territory

For months, construction crews have been renovating a four-story building attached to a monastery on the northern edge of the Vatican gardens where nuns would live for a few years at a time in cloister. Only a handful of Vatican officials knew it would one day be Pope Benedict XVI's retirement home.

On Tuesday, construction materials littered the front of the house and plastic tubing snaked down from the top floor to a cargo container as the restoration deadline became more critical following Benedict's decision to quit on Feb. 28 and live his remaining days in prayer.

From a new name to this new home to the unprecedented reality of having two living popes, Benedict is facing uncharted territory as he becomes the first pontiff in six centuries to retire.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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