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Religion

February 12, 2013

Vatican sends message: Pope's retirement for real

(Continued)

VATICAN CITY —

Other Vatican officials said it would probably be up to the next pope to decide Benedict's new title, and wouldn't exclude that he might still be called "Your Holiness" as a courtesy, much as retired presidents are often referred to as "President." It was not even clear whether the retired pope will retain the name Benedict, or revert to being called Joseph Ratzinger again.

Benedict had been widely expected to issue his fourth encyclical, concerning faith, before Easter. Lombardi said the encyclical would not be ready before Benedict's retirement.

Already, Benedict was changing his schedule to take into account his new circumstances. He had been scheduled to go to a church on Rome's Aventine hill for the annual Ash Wednesday service starting the church's Lenten season this week; the service will take place in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome instead.

Lombardi said a larger space was needed to accommodate the throngs expected to greet the outgoing pope — but observers suspect the Vatican may have also wanted to spare a tiring Benedict from the crowds along the hill.

Immediately after his resignation, Benedict will spend some time at the papal summer retreat in Castel Gandolfo, overlooking Lake Albano in the hills south of Rome where he has spent his summer vacations reading and writing. By March, the weather may start to warm up and he should be able to enjoy the gardens and feed the goldfish in a pond near a statue of the Madonna where he often liked to visit.

If he's interested, he can do some star gazing; The Vatican Observatory is located inside the palazzo, complete with a telescope and a world-class collection of meteorites.

Lombardi said Benedict would eventually return to the Vatican and live at a monastery inside the Vatican gardens. Asked if he might like to go somewhere else, Lombardi said the pope would feel "much safer" inside the Vatican walls.

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