Pope Benedict XVI, on his last morning in office Thursday, vowed to respect and obey the new head of the Catholic church. The Pontiff told the church’s cardinals that he would pray for them to be guided by the Holy Spirit in their selection of his successor. It was a somber moment in Italy today as throngs of worshipers watched a moment in history.
“Among you is…the future pope, to whom I promise my unconditional reverence and obedience,” the pontiff said, as he attempted to allay fears that having a retired pope living alongside a reigning head of church inside the Vatican might cause confusion or division within the church.
Pope Benedict said goodbye to the dozens of black-robed cardinals, the “princes” of the Roman Catholic Church. The cardinals filed by him one by one to shake and or kiss his hands and speak a few words, according to CNN.
The L.A. Times reports that in his valedictory remarks, 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”.
In the eight years he headed the church of St. Peter, Benedict oversaw moments of “radiant light” as well as “clouds that have gathered in the sky”. However, through it all, “we have tried to serve Christ and his church with deep and total love”, the pope said.
At 8 p.m. Thursday, Benedict’s resignation becomes effective and he ends his reign. He will continue to be addressed as “his holiness”, along with the title “pope emeritus”.
The conclave to elect the next pope is expected to start by mid-March