"Pope Live" follows the events of the final day of Pope Benedict XVI's papacy as seen by journalists from The Associated Press around the world. It will be updated throughout the day with breaking news and other items of interest.
'LIKE AN ORCHESTRA'
The pope is leaving with a veiled warning to the men who will choose his successor: Work together.
In his final audience with the cardinals — the so-called "princes" of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI urged them to set aside their differences as they elect the next pope. He says the College of Cardinals should be unified so it works "like an orchestra" where "agreement and harmony" can be reached despite diversity.
The Vatican in recent years has been famed more for its disharmony, with the pope's own butler leaking papal papers that showed feuds and intrigue at the top of the Vatican bureaucracy.
Benedict says he'll pray for the cardinals in coming days as they vote on his successor.
— Nicole Winfield — Twitter http://twitter.com/nwinfield
QUICKQUOTE: POPE BENEDICT XVI
"Among you is also the future pope, whom I promise my unconditional reverence and obedience."
— Pope Benedict XVI, in his final audience to his cardinals.
The Clementine Hall where the pope greeted cardinals for the last time, pledging "unconditional reverence and obedience" to his successor, is a grand 16th century room built by Pope Clement VIII in honor of Pope Clement I — the fourth pope. Covered in ornate marble tiles and Renaissance frescoes, it's basically the pope's reception room — the place where he receives VIPs from around the world. It's also the place where the body of the pope lies in state for private respects by Vatican officials.
— Joji Sakurai — Twitter http://twitter.com/jojisakurai
The pope has promised "unconditional reverence and obedience" to his successor.
Pope Benedict XVI made the pledge as he bade farewell to his cardinals at the Vatican this morning. He also left with a plea for the College of Cardinals to unite and work together "like an orchestra" where "agreement and harmony" can be reached.
The cardinals, who will be voting later this month to choose his successor, are lining up and kissing his hand in farewell.
WELCOME TO CASTEL GANDOLFO
Officials are expecting an enthusiastic welcome from the faithful in Castel Gandolfo, the scenic town where Pope Benedict XVI will spend his first post-Vatican days and make his last public blessing as pope. Fitting for a man looking for a quieter lifestyle, the numbers won't compare to his hectic send-off from St. Peter's Square on the eve of his retirement.
Some 150,000 people flooded the piazza for his final speech as pontiff, with many others watching on giant TV screens set up along the main boulevard outside. The square in Castel Gandolfo is many times smaller — though several thousand are expected to crowd in.
— Nicole Winfield —http://twitter.com/nwinfield
In betting-mad Britain, bookmakers have been busy taking bets on who will replace Benedict XVI since he announced his retirement earlier this month.
The favorite is Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, who would be the first African pope. He's the frontrunner at bookies William Hill, at 5/2, and Ladrokes, at 11/4. Other leading contenders include Italian cardinals Angelo Scola and Tarcisio Bertone and Cardinal Marc Oullet of Canada.
And for those wanting to gamble on a longshot, Ladbrokes has 500/1 odds on former British Prime Minister Tony Blair — a Catholic convert from Anglicanism — and Irish bookmaker Paddy Power is offering 1,000/1 on U2 lead singer Bono.
— Jill Lawless — Twitter http://twitter.com/JillLawless
Cardinals are kissing Pope Benedict XVI's hand as they bid him farewell.
MEETING WITH CARDINALS
Pope Benedict XVI has just met with his cardinals in the Vatican this morning before heading off toward retirement later in the day.
He made brief remarks to them. More on what he said in just a bit.
How does the Catholic Church even get a new pope?
Well, the current one either dies or resigns. Then the church holds a papal conclave and cardinals under the age of 80 vote on who they want to lead them. This time around, 115 cardinals will be voting.
The conclave begins with the cardinals in their red cassocks filing into the Vatican's Sistine Chapel, chanting the "Litany of Saints." Then they place their hand on the Gospel and promise to observe absolute secrecy during and after the conclave.
They also vow to vote independently — a good way to guard against external interference.
During the conclave, the cardinals live in a Vatican hotel and have no contact with the outside world: no phones, no newspapers, no tweeting.
On Day 1, only one round of balloting is held; after that, the cardinals cast two votes in the morning and two in the afternoon until one man has a two-thirds majority.
The outside world only knows what is going on by seeing smoke from the Sistine Chapel each time the ballots are burned. Black smoke means no decision, white smoke means a pope has been chosen.
Soon afterward, the thousands of faithful in St. Peter's Square will hear two Latin words announced from the balcony: "Habemus Papam! (We have a pope!)"
— Nicole Winfield — Twitter — http://twitter.com/nwinfield
The big speeches are done. It's almost time to go.
In just a few minutes, Pope Benedict XVI meets with his cardinals this morning on the day he heads into retirement. No major speech is expected during his morning farewell with his closest advisers, just a simple greeting to each one inside the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace.
Shortly before 5 p.m. local time, Benedict will leave the palace for the last time as pope, head to the helipad on the top of the hill in the Vatican gardens and fly to the papal retreat south of Rome. And there, at 8 p.m. — the exact moment Benedict's resignation goes into effect — the doors of the palazzo will close and the Swiss Guards in attendance will go off duty, their service protecting the pope now finished.
QUICKQUOTE: JOHN KERRY
"The United States sends its best wishes to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI as he leaves the Vatican after years of service and dedication to God, the Catholic Church, and world peace. As the papal conclave assembles, I look forward to continuing our important relationship with the Vatican and working with the new pope to foster dialogue and promote human rights and human dignity throughout the world."
— New U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, visiting Rome for a conference on Syria as part of his first diplomatic tour abroad.
A GLIMPSE INSIDE
Victor L. Simpson, Rome bureau chief for The Associated Press, reflects on his decades of covering the papacy:
One thing that sets the Vatican apart from other places: You can't just stroll around and poke your head in everywhere.
As many as 18 million people pass through Vatican territory each year, but their visits are effectively limited to St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican museums. Aside from the Vatican's 492 residents and its 4,700 employees, everyone else needs a pass, even to drop by the Vatican pharmacy for medicine not sold in Italy (bring a doctor's prescription please) or to buy back copies of the Vatican paper at the offices of L'Osservatore Romano.
After all these years, I still feel a tingle of excitement to be let in through the Bronze Door, escorted past Swiss Guards in full regalia, and taken up to the pope's apartment on the third floor of the Apostolic Palace for a papal audience with a dignitary. These meetings have given a rare peek inside Vatican diplomacy.
— Victor L. Simpson
The town where Benedict is spending his last hours as pope and his first hours as the first pontiff in 600 years to retire is one of several picturesque "castle towns" known as the "Castelli," less than an hour's drive from Rome. Nestled in the Alban Hills, southeast of Rome, it is an area that is volcanic in origin. One of the volcano's old craters became Lake Albano, whose shores include Castel Gandolfo.
The volcano's no longer active, but the Castelli area gets its share of earthquakes, generally fairly mild and doing no damage. The rich volcanic soil helps produce inexpensive white wines that are a favorite in local trattorie as well as in restaurants in Rome.
The town is older than Christianity. The papal residence grounds include ruins from an imperial Roman villa, which itself had been on the site of ancient temples built several centuries before the ancient Romans came to check out the cool breezes and views.
The sprawling papal grounds, which as Vatican property enjoy extraterritoriality, include a working farm. Coffee bars in town have been known to serve milk from the farm's cows. (Yes, it's already been said: "Holy Cow.")
— Frances D'Emilio — Twitter http://twittter.com/fdemilio
GOODBYE, RED SHOES
The red shoes are being retired.
The Pope is giving up the trademark that briefly made him a fashion star, trading in his snappy ruby-red loafers for a pair of hand-crafted brown ones made for him by artisans in Mexico. He will wear those in retirement, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi says.
The flash of red sparked (unfounded) rumors he was wearing Prada and helped make him Esquire magazine's accessorizer of the year in 2007. The actual designer? An Italian craftsman who had previously created a pair for Pope John Paul II, according to the Italian news agency ANSA.
A former Vatican official assured The Associated Press back in 2005 that Benedict was no clothes horse, advising that the pontiff "wouldn't know Gucci from Smoochi."
— Matt Surman — Twitter http://twitter.com/apsurman
LAST DAY AS POPE
Pope Benedict XVI is making history today, becoming the first pontiff to retire in nearly 600 years.
Only a handful of popes have ever done so.
The last was Pope Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415 in a deal to end the Great Western Schism, a dispute among competing papal claimants. The most famous resignation was Pope Celestine V in 1294; Dante placed him in hell for it.
Benedict is saying farewell this morning to his closest advisers in Clementine Hall at the Apostolic Palace. Then shortly before 5 p.m., he will leave the palace for the last time as pope and fly by helicopter to the papal retreat at Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.
Exactly at 8 p.m. — when his resignation takes effect — the doors at Castel Gandolfo will close and the papacy that began on April 19, 2005, will come to an end.
— Nicole Winfield — http://twitter.com/nwinfield
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