BY CATHERINE DURAND
Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, who on February 28 became the first pope in more than 600 years to step down from the papacy, is living a simple life of retirement.
Because his stepping down was an unprecedented event, there were many questions to consider, including what he would be called and what he would wear. The Catholic News Service cited the Rev. Federico Lombardi, S.J., the spokesman for the Vatican, as saying that these decisions were made through consulting Benedict; Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the chamberlain of the church; and others.
He is now known as the pope emeritus or the Roman pontiff emeritus. He wears a white cassock similar to the papal vestment, but without the white cape piece. He also gave up the red shoes of the Pope for brown shoes he was given as a gift in Leon, Mexico.
According to the Washington Post, Benedict will be spending the first few months of his retirement at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, a small lake town located about 15 miles out of Rome. He will be moving permanently into a residence of the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, located within the walls of the Vatican, after renovations are complete.
Benedict’s first day as pope emeritus, according to the Catholic News Agency online, was a simple one. CNA cited Lombardi, the Vatican press office director, who said, “We spoke with Archbishop Georg Gänswein this morning and he told us that both of them slept very well, had dinner and watched two Italian newscasts of the day’s events.”
CNA also reported, “He woke up this morning in time to celebrate Mass at 7:00 a.m., as he normally does and at 4:00 p.m. he walked through Castel Gandolfo’s gardens praying the Rosary,” and mentioned that he prayed evening prayer after dinner and read messages that people had sent him.
The pope emeritus is also expected to devote time to playing the piano, an activity he enjoys and which he did in the evenings of the weeks leading up to his resignation.
The retired pope will not be completely isolated from the church, however. The Agence France-Presse said that the newly elected Pope Francis will be visiting with the pope emeritus on March 23. The Vatican said that the new pope will travel by helicopter to Benedict’s current home, where the two will have lunch together.
Throughout this experience, there have been prayers and masses for the new pope emeritus continuing throughout the world. The National Catholic Register said that the Knights of Columbus have been encouraging people to keep the pope emeritus and the new pope in their prayers and made prayer cards available.
Catholic Education Daily, an online publication of the Cardinal Newman Society, referenced the British website “Generation” which quoted Benedict: “During Lent, the British website, Generation Benedict, is featuring 40 stories of young people whose lives have been influenced by Pope Emeritus Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. The stories include those from college or university students.”