'Thanks for the turnout!' Benedict tells crowd
As many as 100,000 jammed St. Peter's Square on Sunday morning for one of the last public appearances of Pope Benedict XVI.
Speaking in Italian, the pope told the cheering crowd: “Thanks for turnout in such numbers! This, too, is a sign of the affection and the spiritual closeness that you are giving me in these days,” the Associated Press reported. He stretched out his arms as if to embrace the faithful from across the vast expanse of the square.
The traditional Sunday appearance by the pontiff normally attracts a few thousand pilgrims and tourists.
Benedict, who shocked the world by announcing last week his intention to resign, made no direct reference to his departure. But in his comments to Spanish-speaking pilgrims he asked the faithful to “continue praying for me and for the next pope.”
On Sunday night, Benedict began a Lenten retreat, leaving behind a world of speculation about why he resigned and who will replace him next month.
The Vatican's vague announcements feed the fire. The latest was from the Vatican spokesman who speculated whether it was possible to speed up the election for Benedict's successor.
Church law is clear that a conclave is to be held no earlier than 15 days after the papacy is vacated. So a change would require finding a loophole in the densely woven canon laws on conclaves -- or getting a dispensation. Then it would be a frantic push to racewalk a new pontiff up the nave of St. Peter's for his installation so he'd be in place for Palm Sunday, March 24.
That's a bad idea, Vatican expert Rev. Thomas Reese told USA Today. Among his reasons rushing “would be a mistake,” Reese said that church law should not be changed on a whim. “Only the pope can change the rules; once he resigns, no one can change the rules.”
After 8 p.m. on Feb. 28, Benedict will mostly likely be known as Joseph Ratzinger, bishop emeritus of Rome. After a respite at Castel Gondolfo, the pope's summer home, he will live as he has chosen, hidden away in a monastery in the Vatican gardens.
On Sunday at St. Peter's Square, a tourist from Wales, Amy Champion, told the Associated Press, “We wanted to wish him well. It takes a lot of guts to take the job and even more guts ... to quit.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.