Even on the day after his last rough ceremony in st. Peter’s cathedral, he was received by the audience with warm applause. Benedict’s historic step has also won him the understanding of an overwhelming proportion of germans. Meanwhile, the discussion about the profile of the future pope is in full swing.
In front of priests of his diocese, the pope, who is also the bishop of rome, said: "even if I retire now, I will always be close to you in prayer and you will always be close to me, even if I remain hidden from the world"."
Benedict did not elaborate on the reasons for his resignation. "I thank you, thank you for your affection, for your love for the pope," said the 85-year-old. After the event there were some "viva il papa" shouts for the outgoing head of the catholic church.
On monday, the german pope, who has been in office since 2005, announced his resignation for the 28th anniversary of his death. February announced – a novelty in modern times. On wednesday he appeared in public again for the first time since then and was received with great enthusiasm and participation by thousands both at the general audience in the morning and later at what was probably his last major liturgical celebration in st. Peter’s cathedral at the start of lent. Until the end of his pontificate the pope still has a number of appointments to make.
According to a survey, an overwhelming majority of 88 percent of all germans supported benedict’s resignation. According to a survey by the opinion research institute yougov, only 6 percent were dissatisfied with the 85-year-old pope’s decision to relinquish his office.
The audience hall near st. Peter’s cathedral was packed again on thursday, just as it had been the day before at the general audience. "We do not hide that many feelings are mixed in us: sadness and respect, admiration and regret, affection and pride," said cardinal vicar agostino vallini.
The vatican confirmed that benedict’s private secretary, archbishop georg ganswein, will accompany the pope after his resignation, first on the trip to castel gandolfo and later to the monastery. The 56-year-old will also continue to be head of the papal house prefecture. What will become of joseph ratzinger’s close confidant in the long run, however, remained unclear.
German cardinal walter kasper believes it is quite possible that pope will resign more often in the future. "It will accompany all future pontificates as a possibility," he told the "zeit" (thursday). Benedict brought this option to consciousness with his historic decision, said the former bishop of the diocese of rottenburg-stuttgart. The demands on the next pope are high. He must unite the catholic church and reconcile the most diverse opinions.
The geographic origin of the successor does not play a decisive role, according to the brazilian cardinal odilo scherer. This is not an essential question, said the 63-year-old. "The question is whether he is capable of taking over the office."Even the question of whether someone is younger or not so young is no longer the most important thing, said scherer.
On the other hand, theologian and pope critic hans kung spoke out in favor of an age limit of 75 for popes. "One realizes that the pope is a human being and remains a human being, and his office is not a sacrament and therefore given for a limited period of time," kung told the "passauer neue presse" (thursday).