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Vatican marks one year since announcement of Benedict XVI's intent to abdicate

The Vatican today is marking the one-year anniversary of the announcement by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI that he would abdicate the Petrine Office, the first Pontiff to do so in over six centuries. Pope Francis has sent a message on Twitter to followers around the world asking them to pray for his predecessor, who he called a man of "great courage and humility."

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI  announced one year ago today that he would abdicate the Chair of Peter on February 28th
Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

In an interview with Vatican Television, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the Prefect of the Papal Household who lives with and continues to serve Benedict XVI as his personal secretary, called the great theologian's decision an act of immense courage, and something that was revolutionary. “Clearly, taking one’s leave is always a sad thing, a thing that hurts, that is painful. On the other hand, there was also the feeling of gratitude for these years that I was able to live near a great Pope. I knew about (the announcement) a little before, and certainly, when the Pope told me, he told me with orders not to tell anyone, and I did not say anything. I knew about it, however, at the moment he said it, I was shocked. For me, the last day of his pontificate was a day of great sorrow,” Ganswein recalled, saying that Benedict's decision “an act of great courage, even a revolutionary act, which opened up possibilities that no one at that moment could see.”

“We are all seeing the impact of Pope Francis on the world, not only on the faithful in the Church, but on the world; it is a huge impact, and this impact was also facilitated by Pope Benedict in his resignation. He opened up a possibility that until then was not there, and we see that Pope Francis has taken up this situation and we are pleased that today it is so," the Archbishop told the Vatican's television arm.

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