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Benedict to be called 'pope emeritus', wear white

Vatican reveals pontiff's wardrobe after he steps down

26 February, 16:42
Benedict to be called 'pope emeritus', wear white (ANSA) - Vatican City, February 26 - Benedict XVI will be called 'pope emeritus' or 'Roman pontiff emeritus' after he steps down as the head of the Catholic Church on Thursday, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Tuesday.

Lombardi added that it will still be possible to address Benedict as "His Holiness". "He will still be called His Holiness Benedict XVI," Lombardi explained. "It's something that he (Benedict) decided in consultation with other people, but the pope was the main person to take this decision. "He consulted the Cardinal Secretary of State and Camerlengo (Tarcisio Bertone), the (Holy See) Secretariat of State and the College of Cardinals for advice, but the decision was his".

Lombardi also revealed how Benedict will dress when he is no longer pope. He said the 85-year-old German would continue to wear the "simple, white" papal cassock without the mozzetta - the short cape that covers his shoulders.

He added that Benedict will wear brown shoes given to him by Mexican cobblers during a visit last year rather than the distinctive red ones he has worn during his papacy that were made by Italian craftsman Adriano Stefanelli. "The pope really liked the gift of the shoes made for him by the artisans of Leon, Mexico, and he will continue to use them," Lombardi said.

The spokesman confirmed that Benedict's ring of office as pope will be destroyed, according to Vatican tradition.

He added that Benedict's papers have been split between documents regarding the government of the Church, "which will go to the competent archives", and his personal notes, which will stay with him. The 85-year-old pope shocked the world on February 11 when he revealed that would step down from what is usually a life position at the end of the month.

He said it was for the good of the Church as he lacked the mental and physical strength to keep leading the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.

The move sparked speculation that Benedict's presence could overshadow the work of his successor.

But the German pontiff has said he will remain "hidden to the world" after stepping down. On Thursday Benedict will move to the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo outside Rome for a few months before moving to a monastery inside the Vatican that is currently being renovated.

He is set to hold his last general audience on Wednesday.

His last public act will be to greet the faithful after arriving at Castel Gandolfo on Thursday.

Benedict's third-last day as pope was a relatively quiet one.

"He didn't have audiences or speeches today," Lombardi said Tuesday. "The day has been dedicated to prayer, the preparation of the engagements of tomorrow and the day after and to the move, because these are the last days that the pope will be here in the (papal) apartment in the Vatican". Lombardi said a pre-conclave meeting of cardinals is likely to take place on Monday March 4.

The meeting could reveal the date of the start of the conclave to elect Benedict's successor. On Monday Benedict issued a decree changing the rules of the conclave to make it possible for it take place sooner than the mandatory 15 days from a papacy's end, and so before mid-March.

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