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ANSA journalist breaks news of papal resignation

'My knees felt weak as I fought to keep my nerve' says Chirri

12 February, 12:25
ANSA journalist breaks news of papal resignation (ANSA) - Vatican City, February 12 - ANSA journalist Giovanna Chirri was the first to report the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI thanks to her polished Latin skills. "It made me cry," said Chirri. "I fought to keep my nerve despite my knees feeling weak". Chirri was among just a few journalists in the Vatican press room Monday during a routine consistory when the pope, 85, announced in Latin he was stepping down due to age and declining health. Chirri, who has covered the Vatican since 1994, said that the pope's Latin is "very easy to understand," though admitted to questioning herself when hearing the news, which came after 20 minutes of announcements in Latin concerning three upcoming canonizations that most outlets had chosen not to cover.

"(The news of) his resignation didn't seem real to me," she said. "I told myself 'you misunderstood'". When the announcement was repeated with the date of the pope's official resignation on February 28 at 20:00 local time, Chirri filed a bulletin with ANSA. It was eventually picked up by the rest of the international media. A devout Catholic with "great admiration" for Benedict, Chirri stressed how she has "always tried to keep her Christian faith separate from my role as a journalist". "I was upset that he was resigning," she said. "That's what made me cry".

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