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February 12, 2013

Vatican sends message: Pope's retirement for real

(Continued)

VATICAN CITY —

From a new name to this new home to the awkward reality of having a reigning pope and a retired one, the 85-year-old Benedict has plenty of decisions to make.

Benedict said Monday he was stepping down because he simply no longer had the strength in mind or body to carry on. On Tuesday, Lombardi revealed for the first time that the pope has had a pacemaker for years and just had its battery replaced a few months ago.

Although no date for a conclave to choose the next pope has been announced, it must begin within 20 days of his Feb. 28 retirement. That means a new pope will likely be elected by the College of Cardinals by Easter — March 31 this year.

The decision immediately raised questions about what Benedict would be called, where he would live — and how that might affect his successor.

The Vatican's senior communications adviser, Greg Burke, said Tuesday the fact that Benedict had chosen to live in a monastery is significant.

"It is something that he has wanted to do for a while," Burke said. "But I think it also suggests that his role is going to be a very quiet one, and that is important so you don't have a situation of ... two different popes at the same time, and one influencing the other.

"I think the obvious thing is when he says retirement, it really means retiring," he said.

The pope's brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, told reporters in Germany on Tuesday that Benedict was planning to stay out of the public eye and will probably even stop writing — one of the favorite pursuits of the brainy theologian.

As for the pope's new name, Burke said Benedict would most likely be referred to as "Bishop of Rome, emeritus" as opposed to "Pope Emeritus." Lombardi also said Benedict would take some kind of "emeritus" title.

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