Pope enjoys swansong; influence still a question
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI's emotional farewell took an intimate turn Thursday as he held off-the-cuff reminiscences with Roman priests. In the background, questions kept mounting about the true state of Benedict's health and his influence over the next pontiff.
For a second day, Benedict sent very pointed messages to his successor and to the cardinals who will elect that man about the direction the Catholic Church must take once he is no longer pope. While these remarks have been clearly labeled as Benedict's swansong before retiring, his influence after retirement remains the subject of intense debate.
Benedict's resignation Feb. 28 creates an awkward situation — the first in 600 years — in which the Catholic Church will have both a reigning pope and a retired one. The Vatican has insisted that Benedict will cease to be pope at exactly 8 p.m. on the historic day, devoting himself entirely to a life of prayer.
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